Monday, 21 September 2009

Remembering the Gresford Disaster 1934

On 22nd September it will be the 75th anniversary of the Gresford mining disaster, when 266 men lost their lives in the colliery. The siren at Wrecsam museum will be sounded for two minutes and there will be a public service of remembrance at the Gresford memorial on Tuesday.

Looking through list of those who died that day, the street names jump out at you: Lorne St, Vernon St, Bradley Road in town as well as addresses in every village from Rhos and Ruabon through Coedpoeth, Summerhill, Gwersyllt and Gresford itself.

Five men in Lorne Street, Rhosddu, alone died in the disaster.

A detailed book by Stanley Williamson analyses the disaster and Wrecsam Council has put together some useful pages detailing the history.

From the evidence to hand, there's no doubt the colliery owners buried the truth along with the 266 bodies they left below ground. The £544,000 collected for the miners' families in an age of great hardships was also mishandled by the authorities and it took the forensic skills of Stafford Cripps, a socialist lawyer who later served in the 1945-51 Labour government, to get at the truth in a public inquiry.

It wasn't the worst mining disaster in history, it wasn't even the worst mining disaster in Wales - Senghennydd has that dubious privilege. But, thanks to the efforts of a small group of people, it lives on in the North Wales coalfield, where 800 children lost their fathers in a single day and where whole communities knew the real price of coal.

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