October 2013 – Universal Colliery, Senghenydd, South-Wales
14 October 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the worst mining disaster in British history.
439 boys and men aged between 15 and 61 were killed when methane, or “firedamp” as it was called, exploded, with the initial spark coming from a lamp station or perhaps the electric lift that took the men up and down the pit shaft. The explosion of gas set in motion an explosion of coal dust, which further set off methane, so the whole explosion, or series of them, very quickly engulfed the whole pit. Over the following days some ninety bodies were brought to the surface, the remainder were left, it being too dangerous to attempt further retrieval.
A court of enquiry was held in May the following year. The story is a depressingly familiar one when it comes to the value of miners’ lives in the age before nationalisation. The colliery manager and the mine owners faced seventeen charges of breaching mines regulations. They were fined a total of £24.
This pamphlet is part of the Labour History Archive & Study Centre’s collection of over 16,000 pamphlets.
Sent out approximately every two months.