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Welsh Mining History. Gresford, Wrexham,1934.
Although there were a great many Pits in the region, and quite a few disasters, the fact that most of the mines were small, kept the numbers of deaths down. I have no doubt, that in some cases. it was far too dangerous to recover a poor miners broken body. Upsetting as this was to the mans relatives, imagine what it would have felt like if a whole town was affected. Gresford, just outside Wrexham, in Wales, had to endure such a happening in September, 1934. Just before 2 am on the morning of the 22nd, with over 400 miners underground, there was a violent explosion, followed by a disasterous fire, and choking clouds of gas. The mine was worked in two parts, The Martin, and the Dennis Main, ( the names given to the shafts ). There were 271 men working in the " Dennis Deep ", and only 6 got out alive. Rescue workers valiantly fought the raging fires, in an attempt at rescuing miners trapped beyond the flames. It was an epic battle, and one which was lost. 3 members of a rescue team lost their lives in the effort, at which stage, all further attempts were stopped. The damage to the mine was horrendous, and two further massive explosions caused the mine to be sealed, in an attempt to put out the fire. It would be 5 months before the mine could be entered by fully trained rescue squads, and the damage properly surveyed. It was decided, because of the continuing danger, that the Dennis Deep section would be sealed off, and work began to re-open the other section of the mine. ( Jobs were scarce in the 1930s, and looking back, in hindsight, most believe it was the right thing to do. ). It must have caused untold anguish when the rescue effort was called off, you just can't imagine what it must felt like to be told that no bodies would be recovered as well. The mine is now long gone, just a memorial on the spot where this disaster happened, beneath which lie the bodies of 265 welsh miners. I used to lodge, on my travels, with a family who lost relatives in the explosion, and on the wall in the living room, was a little poem, the lines from a welsh folk song.
Down there in the dark they are lying, they died for nine shillings a day,
They have worked out their shift, and now they must lie,
In the darkness until judgement day.
The mine owners were, three years later, found guilty of breaching eight mine safety regulations. They were fined just £140.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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