Assembly remembers Gresford disaster

Tributes have been paid in the National Assembly to the miners lost in the Gresford colliery disaster 83 years ago.

A short statement this afternoon (Wednesday) by Plaid Cymru’s North Wales regional AM Llyr Gruffydd outlined the tragedy, which will also be commemorated in a ceremony this Friday at the Gresford colliery memorial:

“September 22nd 1934 was a Saturday. Some miners at the Gresford colliery had swapped shifts to be able to go to watch Wrexham play that afternoon. They were never to make the match as an explosion 2000 feet underground ripped open the Dennis Shaft in the early hours of the morning.

“The disaster claimed 266 lives – all local colliers whose families rushed to the colliery pithead. Only six men – on a break – escaped from that shift. Volunteer rescuers armed with only nose clips and canaries against deadly carbon monoxide gas went down to try to save any survivors. Three of the rescue brigade from the nearby Llay colliery also perished. The families waited in vain until Sunday night, when it became apparent that nobody was coming up from the Dennis shaft alive.

“Popular reaction was immense and immediate – £566,000 was raised for widows and children of those lost – the equivalent of £30m today. The surviving miners were effectively abandoned  by the pit owners and had to sign on the dole at a time of mass unemployment.

“The Gresford colliery is now closed, the tip its only visible reminder of a pit that employed 2,200 workers. But a lasting memorial to the 266 lives lost stands outside the Gresford Colliery Club and this statement is also testimony to the sacrifice made by countless Welsh miners over the years. The bodies of those caught in the explosion remain entombed deep underground but they will never be forgotten.”

 

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