One hundred years ago at 6.00 a.m this morning 14 October 1913, a series of terrible explosions ripped through the Universal Coal Pit in the village of Senghennyd, a town in the Aber Valley, four miles north west of the town of Caerphilly, in South Wales ( U.K).
The cause of the disaster was thought to have been a 'firedamp', when a spark ignites metane gas, and then explodes, this explosion sucks coal dust on the floor into the air and causes a huge explosion. In Senghennyd this spread even further underground of the mines, and was followed by 'afterdamp', where deadly poisonous gases replaced the missing air and oxygen.
The result was 439 miners and 1 rescuer being killed and it is now considered to be the worst mining accident in the U.K and the most serious in the terms of loss of life. The rescue operation lasted for 3 weeks, although by then the chance of finding anyone left alive had long faded. It would send shockwaves throughout the world, reminding people of the terrible cost of coal. Today hundreds of people have been attending a special memorial event to mark the occasion, with a memorial and a walled garden opened,on which individual tiles will be laid with the name,age and addresses of all those who were killed in the Senghennyd disaster and a wall of rememberance, acting as a 'path of memory' to all other miners who have died in accidents across the mining community here in Wales.
According the Carwyn Jones the Welsh first minister ' The Senghennyd tragedy has come to symbolise the dangers and sacrifices made by those who went undergroung in search of coal but never returned home. It is fitting that this should be the location for a memorial dedicated to all the miners that have died in mining disasters across our nations.'
On a personal note I can never forget the tales my own grandad told me, who himself was a miner in the valleys in the 1930's as was his father before him, and many of his relatives, who taught me never to forget the long list of tragedy, human grief and loss in our history, and the sorrow of communities like Senghennyd who have lost their loved ones.I never forget too, how some peoples lives are expendable in the pursuit of profit.
Mourning of the Valley - Documentary telling the story of the 1913
Senghennyd Mining Disaster