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Mining memorial recognises sacrifices of all colliers who died in Wales' pit disasters; One hundred years after the worst mining disaster in British mining history, a Welsh village will commemorate not only the loved ones lost in that disaster, but the hundreds of men, women and children who died in Wales' pits. Jonathan Evans reports.

Byline: Jonathan Evans

ACENTURY has passed since the worst colliery disaster in UK history, which saw 440 workers lose their lives after a huge explosion in Senghenydd.

The disaster at the Universal Colliery sent shockwaves throughout the world and is still recognised as one of the worst underground explosions in the history of mining.

The 1913 tragedy is being remembered today, exactly 100 years since it happened.

At today's service The Aber Valley Heritage Group will unveil the Welsh National Mining Memorial, which will remember all those who have lost their lives in mining disasters across Wales, The event will begin with the sounding of the original Universal Colliery pit hooter, which will ring out down the Aber Valley at 8.10am, just as it did 100 years ago.

A dedication service will follow at 11.30am in a newly instated landscaped Memorial Garden, followed by the unveiling of a bronze statue, designed by sculptor Les Johnson.

The statue depicts a rescue worker coming to the aid of one of the survivors of the explosion.

The ceremony will also see the unveiling of a wall of remembrance dedicated to those who lost their lives in the disaster, featuring individual ceramic tiles detailing the name, age and addresses of each victim.

As well as the 1913 disaster, there was also an explosion at the colliery in 1901 which saw 81 men killed.

The special wall will also include the details of those who died in this disaster.

There is also a memorial garden which will feature a path of memory dedicated to all mining disasters across Wales where five or more people were killed. The pathway will have tiles listing the colliery, date of the disaster and the number of people who died, along with a bespoke tile acknowledging those who passed away in Wales' other mining tragedies.

It has been designed by Stephanie Wilkins of Ty Mawr Gardens & Landscape Design.

The evening tributes, beginning at 5.45pm, will see a "promenade performance" by Striking Attitudes Dance Company followed by a children and adult lantern parade, which will head from adjacent to Nant-y-Parc Primary School to the new memorial garden. The evening tributes will come to a close with a short service.

Jack Humphreys, chairman of the Aber Valley Heritage Group, said: "It has been a hundred years since the disaster at the Universal Colliery, but the impact that the explosion had on this small mining community is still felt today.

"We hope the event planned for today is a fitting tribute to the victims of the explosions in Senghenydd and mining disasters across Wales."

The United Reform Church in Senghenydd also hosted two events leading up to the memorial event.

A special service was held on Saturday, and a Gymanfa Ganu with Aber Valley Male Voice Choir was performed at the church yesterday.

The National Mining Memorial project has been made possible with funding from Aber Valley Community Council, Aber Valley Heritage Group, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Caerphilly County Borough Council, and the Welsh Government's CyMAL, Tidy Towns and Village Renewal Fund initiatives.For event updates follow @Senghenydd1913 on Twitter.

| Further information can also be found at www.abervalleyheritage.

co.uk > COMMENT PAGE 22 MINING BLAZE TOOK 440 LIVES THE demand for Welsh steam coal before the First World War was enormous, driven by the Royal Navy's huge fleet of steam battleships, dreadnoughts and cruisers, and by foreign navies allied to Britain and the British Empire.

Coal output from British mines peaked in 1914, and there were a large number of accidents around this time.

The worst was at the Universal Colliery, where a coal-dust explosion travelled through most of the underground workings, killing 440 miners.

It was probably started by firedamp (methane) being ignited, possibly by electric sparking from equipment such as electric bell-signalling gear. Those miners not killed immediately by the fire and explosion would have died quickly from afterdamp, the noxious gases formed by combustion. These include lethal quantities of carbon monoxide, which kills very quickly.

The victims are suffocated by lack of oxygen or anoxia.

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Senghenydd colliery pictured around the time of the tragedy in 1913
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 14, 2013
Words:692
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