The Mr Parker appreciation article, published in 1914 by the "Dunfermline & West Fife Journal", is followed by summary notes on the career of Joseph Parker, as written by his daughter, Agnes.

Additional items relating to Mr Parker also appear in Menu 4 of the website - see Link: Mining School - as Joseph Parker was appointed Principal of the Fife Mining School, Cowdenbeath.

An Appreciation of Mr. Parker

"Dunfermline & West Fife Journal"
2 May, 1914

" 'Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity.' Addressed by this time-honoured standard, Mr. Parker must be credited with an exceptionally large endowment of genius. He is a man of transparent and unquenchable sincerity, and its out-flow in the form of enthusiasm is ceaseless.

Mr. Parker's dominating passion - his inspiring, impelling enthusiasm from his early boyhood - has been the quest of knowledge; in short, he has made the getting of understanding his religion, his permanent, overmastering duty. He has sought for mental equipment as the chief end of his being and his laudable ambition he has made dignified and honourable by the generosity of his services to others. Some men treat learning as the worshipper of wealth treats money - they confine its use to personal advantage. Mr. Parker values knowledge not only as a power ministering to his own satisfaction and comfort, but also as a means of improving the conditions of life for his neighbours, for his class and indeed for all he could influence for good.

A native of Hamilton, Mr. Parker had had early associations with the Mining Industry, as he sprung from the Mining class. He was only 13 when his school days were ended, and sent to the arduous and perilous work of the pit. However, he did not discontinue being a scholar, and was forever teaching himself, and ever proving the most responsive of pupils. He realized, however, that more than mere self-culture was needed and, in spite of his limited financial resources, he was able to resume study under more favourable tutorial conditions by attending for some time Hamilton Academy, keeping specially in view his equipment for service in connection with the Science of Mining.

In 1894, he obtained an appointment as Lecturer with the Fife County Council, and, in the performance of his work for two years, he learned much himself while he diligently sought to teach others. Being known as a man who combined practical and theoretical knowledge, he was given another step upwards on the ladder of promotion, by securing an appointment as Colliery Manager at Cardenden, Fife, and, in 1901, whilst still working as Colliery Manager he undertook the tuition of several classes under Mr. Mitchell, the energetic educational organizer of the F.C.C.

Few men personally profited more by teaching than Mr. Parker; the more he learned the more he felt he needed to know, and, in 1903, he enrolled himself as a pupil of Dunfermline High School. Not withstanding his advanced years, he proved to be a remarkably apt scholar as well as a teacher.

His aim with mental culture was to secure the status of a fully qualified teacher of Mining Science; he did not confine his studies merely to technical subjects, for he realized the advantage of a wider knowledge, the development of a knowledge of general literature, and the development of literary taste and capacity; however, he always kept the subject of Mining Science foremost in his mind. As he found it necessary to combine teaching with study, his life at Edinburgh, as through all of his career, was strenuous in the extreme. He emerged, however, triumphant as a B.Sc., who, in a post-graduate course distinguished himself in Electrical Engineering, finally securing the Heriot-Watt College Diploma with the additional distinction of Medallist in Electrical Machine Design. As already indicated, his inspiring ambition was not to secure for himself a comfortable and honourable position in life, but to make himself serviceable to his own mining people and to the generation in which he lived. The coveted opportunity came when he was appointed to the Principalship of the Fife Mining School at Cowdenbeath, and lecturer at the Lauder Technical College, Dunfermline.

As a teacher, organizer and administrator he had proved himself most successful; it is true that he had been conspicuously fortunate in the fullness of the modern mechanical and scientific equipment placed at his disposal, especially at the Cowdenbeath institution, the planning and furnishing of which he had much to do. Thanks in no small degree to his diligent oversight and his persuasive appeal to the Fife Mining School ranks, it was one of the best furnished institutes of its kind in the country. Thanks also to his qualifications as teacher and Principal, it is proving itself as one of the most successful. Mr. Parker adopts the teaching to the wants of the mining community, and he interprets these wants as a full knowledge of the most approved mechanical machinery, and a regard for the conditions necessary for safe as well as productive working.

Mr. Parker teaches as one who recognizes the essential identity of the interests of the capitalist and of the worker, and he seeks to harmonise these interests by combining efficiency with safety, by familiarizing the miner with scientific principles and possibilities alike as regards the output of coal and the protection of life and limb. It is the aim of Mr. Parker's life to make every workman in the bowels of the earth who shows the necessary capacity and devotion to his classes fit for the position of Manager, or of some form of captaining in coalmining undertakings.

No small measure of his success in creating mining experts is due to his fidelity to the higher morality inspired by Christian faith; he teaches as one who believes that the wealth of the mind is the only true wealth including the higher morality exhibited in self respect, self restraint and keen regard of the elevation of the standard of life for the miners. He has considered his energies highly appreciated, the effect of which is shown by the fact that the number of his pupils has steadily increased from 100 to 500; every one of them knew him as a kind friend.

That a teacher should be sparing in his smile the Principal of the Fife Mining School goes through life with a smile on his face and if this is ever ruffled it is when he sees a miner dishonouring his class or his industry by indulgence in intemperance, or by any kind of rude behaviour, or when the Education Department show any signs of neglect, or in any way try to hamper the progress of the Fife Mining School.

The Popularity of the School excites no surprise, the Principal is trusted and esteemed alike by workmen and employers because of the fullness and unselfishness of his serviceability; he is constantly finding opportunities for helpfulness. One of his latest successful developments has been a special class for mine firemen.

The College, however, with all its varied enterprises does not discourage his beneficent activities. As a man who finds delight in doing good he gladly welcomes and effectively utilizes opportunities presented to him of pleading the course of temperance. As a friend of humanity, and one who encourages intellectual culture, he addresses literary societies; he also plays his part in the fostering of religious sentiments by meeting with church guilds or other congregational agencies. Sometimes men who have successfully passed through an arduous struggle for position forget the rock from which they were hewn, and show themselves hard taskmasters or arrogant dictators when they have the power.

The genuinely good man has been through the lists of prosperity as well as adversity; Mr. Parker has not been spoiled by his success; on the contrary he has turned it to glorious gain, like Wordsworth's ideal,

Happy warrior whom every man in arms should work to be.



[As written by Joseph Parker's daughter, Agnes]

In 1884, J. Parker entered a coal mine at the age of 13 and for 10 years worked through all grades of pit work and concurrently studied Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Mining and Mechanical Engineering at the Hamilton Academy. He was "Dixon" prizeman in 1894.

From 1894 to 1896, he held an appointment, under the Fife County Council, as Lecturer in Mining & Applied Mechanics for the East Fife district.

In 1896, he was listed first at the examination for the Colliery Manager's Certificate, held at Edinburgh, and was immediately thereafter appointed underground manager at the Station Colliery, Larkhall.

In 1899, he was appointed manager of the Carden Colliery, Fife, where he was a pioneer in the introduction of coal-cutting machinery to Fife.

In 1903, Joseph Parker was appointed Principal of the Cowdenbeath Mining School, and Lecturer in Coal Mining at the Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh, and commenced studying for a degree in engineering. He held the lectureship at the College until 1907, when it became a full-time appointment and was given to Professor Briggs. The Governors of the College complimented him on his services while Lecturer in Mining.

In 1908, Mr Parker graduated B.Sc., at Edinburgh University and subsequently attended a post-graduate course in Electrical Engineering at Heriot-Watt College and gained the Diploma in Electrical Engineering in 1909.

In 1909, he was the author of the following scientific publications:
"An Introductory Course in Mining Science." (1910)
"A Text Book On Coal Mining Science." (1914)

When, in 1910, the Fife Mining School was erected in Cowdenbeath, he was appointed Principal.

The following Papers were read before the National Association of Colliery Managers:
1912: "The Siphon."
1914: "Some Attempts to Improve Rescue Apparatus."

For this second paper, he was awarded the Medal of the Association.

... and before the Institute of Mining Engineers:
1921: "The Operation of Fans in Parallel.
1922: "The Characteristic Curves of Fans and their Application."
1923: "Economy and Efficiency in Ventilation"
1924: "The Choice of an Efficient Fan or Ventilator for a Mine."


Early in the 1914-18 war, he recruited and trained a Company of 240 students of the Mining School for the Army Service Corps and Mech. Transport. He also organised and managed a Training School from which were sent out 300 trained women for munitions work, and 250 ex-servicemen trained for various occupations.

Précis on the History of the Fife Mining School.

No provision was made for instruction in the Coal Mining Industry in the County of Fife until 1890.

First Mining Teacher was from Hamilton - Mr Williamson - 80 pupils enrol.

First Mining School launched in 1890, at Dunfermline, the Principal, Mr Williamson. It carried on there for three years when, for the general convenience of the average pupil, it was decided that Cowdenbeath would be more central, Cowdenbeath now being the hub of the mining industry in Fife.

Patrons: Fife County Council take an increasing interest; also Lord Elgin.

War of 1914-18: Mining School contributed to war effort generally.