The Road to Drumleman: Memories of Argyll Colliery
Director: Jan Nimmo (50 mins)

When Jan's father, ex- Argyll Colliery worker Neil Nimmo, died she had a lot of answered questions - the kind she should have asked but didn't - and her loss made her curious to find out more about the place where her father had worked until she was four years old. The site of the mine is now a caravan park, set back from the spectacular Machrihanish Bay on Kintyre's western shore, and almost no physical traces of its existence remain. Over the course of three years Jan sought out the remaining men who had worked alongside her father to piece together the story of Scotland's most remote coal mine. This unique and fragile piece of oral history is a tribute to all the men who worked there. The film has a been a very personal piece of work for the filmmaker. It was premiered at Campbeltown Picture House and subsequently shown at Document Human Rights Film Festival in Glasgow, at Cine de Granada in Spain and there have been various community screenings including a very special screening and Céilidh at Machrihanish Village Hall with the contributors and their families... Sadly some of the contributors have died both during the making of and since finishing the film; Willie McKinlay, Jim Fowler, John Anderson, Campbell Maloney and Dennis McWhirter.

The film and is dedicated to the memory of Jan's father and his twin brother, Ramsay.

If you would like to arrange community screening of this film contact Jan.

Images from the film

Willie Durance

Photo Courtesy of Willie Durance


The Road to Drumleman tells the story of Kintyre’s last coal mine, The Argyll Colliery (1947–1967), the most remote coal mine in Scotland. Almost no physical traces of the mine remain and now it is hard to imagine that the well run mine thrived just behind spectacular Machrihanish Bay.
When artist Jan Nimmo’s father and former Argyll Colliery shot firer, Neil Nimmo, died, Jan realised that there was an urgency to gather the stories of the remaining miners. Through their personal narrative the film gives an insight into working life 50 years ago; of its hardships and camaraderie. The stories span the life of the mine and pay tribute to all of the men who worked invisibly beneath the wild and unspoiled shores of western Kintyre.

"The Road to Drumleman is a tribute to the miners of Argyll Colliery and a rich oral history of a hidden Scotland. Not just Kintyre, but the whole country is enriched by this moving, witty, compassionate landmark film".

Gerry Loose, writer and poet.

"Although not a native of Argyll and only being 10 when Argyll Colliery closed I spent the first part of my working life at pits in Lancashireand North Staffordshire.  The pitmen that you interviewed could have been my old face team with Wee Toon accents.  The humour, the knowledge, the interest, the camaraderie and the memories were all there.  You could tell that those guys were seeing it as it was when they were recounting it to you and to say I was moved would be an understatement…."

Malcolm Chattwood.

"I shed a few tears watching it. I can’t thank you enough for sending the film to me I am very grateful and can’t wait to show it to my family. It also reduced my husband to tears and he hadn’t even met my dad.  I was very impressed with the sensitive way in which you interviewed the men and presented the film.  Very well done Jan, can’t praise you enough.

Oonagh, Austraiia.

Read more audience feedback

An update on the film and feedback from Jim Woodcock Jnr.

Press - The Scotsman and For Argyll

DVDs available contact Jan

Photos from some of the flms screenings of The Road to Drumleman.

There is now a new phase to this project. SKDT's The Road to Drumleman community exhibition and heritage project, which is currently gathering images and stories from Kintyre's coalmining past. Jan is leading the project with the support of SKDT. For more information on the project and its supporters check the blog, The Road to Drumleman.

A History of Coal Mining in Kintyre by . M. Seaman and Father Webb (Thanks to Morag Mc Millan, SKDT, and Elizabth McTaggart for typing up this electronic copy).

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