Hugh Smith Sloan was born on August 21st 1912 in Cowdenbeath. His father, Richard, was a pit sinker and miner, who came from Kilmarnock at a time when coal was being developed in East Fife at a rapid pace and the Wemyes Coal Company was crying out for men. Hugh, who followed his father into the pit, was the oldest of a family of five children (John, Richard, Helen and Izabella, who died in her 50s); their mother was Elizabeth (née Hughes).
Although always small in stature, Hug was “large in life, intellect and courage”. He developed a talent for art in his early years and kept this up throughout his life. He became influenced by the Communist Party during the 1920s and was active from a young age both in the Party and in the miners’ union. Hugh Sloan’s talent for drawing was quickly spotted and his satirical art work for the Daily Worker and later Morning Star was used from very early on and all during his life. He was the illustrator for the Spark, the rank-and-file pit paper of the Wellesley Colliery and the Flame, the paper of the Michael Colliery.
An avid and wide reader, Hugh used to joke to his daughter, Betty (named after Hugh’s mother), that he was a bit of a freak because he was a “working class intellectual and there was supposed to be no such thing”! (He was married to Jeannie and they had two other offspring, naming them after themselves, another pair of Jeannie and Hugh.) Hugh Sloan was also a writer of poetry, “which captured the heart as well as the imagination”. A life-long Communist, he was also an International Brigader from 1937-39 and “never got over the shock and horror of the war experience”.
He went back to the pits and was there until 1964, when he left due to ill-health. Becoming a ganger laying the pipeline to clean up the River Leven for a while, he then worked as a janitor at KirklandHigh School before retiring in 1977. On the dissolution of the CPGB, he joined the Communist Party of Scotland (distinct from the Communist Party of Britain in Scotland) and died in December 1994.
Source: Uncredited funeral brochure December 1994
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