Sydney Ian Hogarth, former Lothian senior ventilation engineer. Born: 4 December 1928 in Springboig, Glasgow. Died 14th December, 2018 in Edinburgh, aged 90.
Ian Hogarth lived an amazingly full life and dedicated his working life to the coalmining industry of Scotland, but participated very fully in the cultural life of the country through his interest in music, opera, geology and geography. One of the aspects that characterised these interests was the way in which he and his wife Muriel brought personal friendship to bear on these activities.
Born in Springboig to Sydney Hogarth, an accountant, and his wife, Dulcie Mansfield Henley, on 4 December, 1928, as a boy Ian witnessed significant events such as the launching of the Queen Mary in 1934, the start of its maiden voyage in 1936, and the ill-fated German airship Hindenberg, which crashed in 1937, flying over Glasgow.
War was declared in 1939 and his life bore the marks of these troubled times. His schooling was at Allan Glen’s, but the school was evacuated to Uddingston for about two months after the start of the war.
In 1940, he passed the qualifying exam for entry to secondary education. Heavy German raids on the Glasgow area caused serious disruption and many casualties. If a raid went beyond 2am, pupils were given an hour extra in bed and had to be in school by 10am. Rationing of food and clothing was universal. His educational progress was affected by his failure to pass Higher English on two occasions due to dyslexia, a barely recognised problem at the time.
In September 1947, on the strength of his other subjects, he gained entry to the Royal Technical College (formerly the Anderson Institute), now Strathclyde University, where he studied chemistry and metallurgy, and later geology and electrical engineering, then, in his final year, electrolysis as a means of refining metals.
During one of the summer vacations he was offered a post as an assistant warden at a camp at Lochgilphead, Argyll, for boys who had suffered deprivation. The boys, aged 10 and 11, had nothing of this world’s goods, but gave no problems. They enjoyed the open air and three meals a day. Ian’s comment was: “Small wonder they did not want to go home.”
In January 1951, international student exchange was restored for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Ian applied for an exchange scholarship and was successful.
The college arranged a placement with Noranda Mines in Quebec, Canada, after Ian’s success in his final exams. Friendship with the under manager brought him a visit underground to see the system of extraction of copper and iron ore. Seeing this persuaded Ian to switch his preference to mining.
Ian returned to the UK and next day went to the Labour Exchange and signed on with the National Coal Board. Because of the need for coal, mining was considered a type of National Service.
He was allocated to the Lady Victoria pit in Newtongrange, Midlothian, and each Tuesday he attended the mining day release class at Heriot Watt College in Chambers Street, with the Mining Department in the Grassmarket. At work he continued on the nightshift at the training face of the Lady Victoria. The extra courses required to sit for membership of the Institute of Mining Engineers, the First Class Colliery Manager’s Certificate, a First Aid Certificate, and a Gas Testing and Hearing Certificate were studied at evening classes and the exams successfully passed.
At the end of the course he heard that Cardowan Colliery, near his parents’ home, required spare facemen. He was interviewed and appointed as ventilation officer. By 1958 he was area ventilation engineer for the NCB Central West Area of the Scottish Division.
In 1959 he married Muriel Meikle, who was one of a large group of teachers visiting Cardowan when they first met.
There were 42 visitors between men and women. Muriel was one of eight ladies placed in Ian’s care for the visit. On the tour they eventually reached the Possil coalface, which was shallower than the rest, only 27 inches high.
Two of the groups with eight ladies each split up with only four from each continuing on. Because Ian was more familiar with that part of the pit, he was given the responsibility of taking the hardier ladies forward.
Somehow, at 1600 feet below ground, something sparked – not explosively, but with steady burning intensity. Apparently, one of Muriel’s concerns was whether she would be able to recognise Ian when they reached the surface, and he had showered and removed the grime.
The wedding took place in Strathbungo Parish Church – Ian’s father maintained that the marriage had very solid foundations since they went down 1600 feet – and the same year they set up home in Penicuik, Midlothian, where Ian was now area ventilation engineer with the Lady Victoria, one of his collieries. He remained as a ventilation engineer until his retirement in the 1980s. In 1966 they moved to Blinkbonny Road in Edinburgh, their home for the rest of their lives.
In recent years, Ian returned to old haunts to help set up the National Mining Museum at Newtongrange and was a leading figure in its development. Apart from work, leisure activities were varied. Ian had been a cyclist and active Rover Scout during his mining training, but now the Edinburgh Geological Society, Royal Scottish Geographical Society, theatre-going and support of the Scottish National Orchestra became an important aspect of his leisure activities, often accompanied by Muriel.
Travel was an important feature of their lives. Ian travelled to Canada as a student and in 1966 went to Soviet Russia. In retirement with Muriel he travelled, always armed with his camera, worldwide to Europe, Asia, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand more than once.
In the Edinburgh Geological Society, Ian was excursion secretary from 1977-1987, organising not only day and evening field trips, but also legendary week-long excursions to the Scottish islands and far north- west. He served as president from 1993-95.
His service to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society was notable for the years he gave to the finances of the Edinburgh Centre at a time when they had to be audited separately. For his service he was awarded the Society’s Honorary Fellowship.
I personally got to know him when I became deputy treasurer in Edinburgh in 1998, taking over from him as treasurer in January 1999. His personality was outgoing, friendly, hospitable and generous. He was careful for the reputation of others, knowledgeable and intelligent, very measured in his judgement.
He had many friends among his neighbours and maintained strong contacts with former pupils of his school and people he had met on his travels.
Those who cared for him in the Western General Hospital in his final illness did so with great affection.
William M Mackay