THE ALBION. Pontypridd, Glamorganshire. 23rd. June, 1894.

The colliery was the property of the Albion Steam Coal Company, Limited whose registered address was 12, Bute Crescent Cardiff. It was a comparatively new colliery with sinking operations commencing in 1885 and completed in 1887. It was in the Taff Valley and this portion of the coalfield was virgin until the colliery was opened. It was to the north of the Ocean Coal Company Lady Windsor Pit at Ynysybwl and Harris’s Deep Navigation Colliery at Treharris. It was near the village of Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd and was one of the largest in South Wales and employed nearly two thousand men but at the time there were only about a sixth of that number below ground on the afternoon repairing shift.

Mr. Henry Lewis, of Walnut Tree Junction, was the managing director of the Company and acted on behalf of the owners. He was a mining engineer with a wide experience in the steam coal collieries of South Wales. Mr. William Lewis who held a First Class Certificate was resident agent and Mr. Phillip Jones was the certificated manager of the colliery. At the time of the explosion William Jones, son of the manager was acting undermanager as John Jones the regular undermanager, was not at work due to ill health. William Rees was the day overman and John Evans the night overman. The latter was killed in the disaster. There were eight firemen on the day shift and eight at night as well as assistant firemen and bratticemen. Mr. Lewis, the managing director, went underground from time to time and was in daily contact with the officials.

The colliery was about sixteen hundred feet deep and had two shafts, the downcast and winding shaft and the other an upcast shaft. They were 33 yards apart and 19 feet in diameter and walled throughout by 9-inch brickwork.

In sinking the shafts the following seams were met. The No.2 Rhondd which was 4 feet thick at 128 yards, the No.3 Rhondd, 2 feet 7 inches thick at 226 yards, the Two Feet Nine, 6 feet thick at 517 yards, the Four Feet, 6 feet 8 inches thick at 545 yards, the Six Feet, 6 feet thick at 552 yards and the Nine Feet, at 580 yards. The Four Feet was known locally as the “Upper Four Feet” and this was the only seam that had been worked up to the time of the disaster. It was first-class steam coal and the seam was a clean one varying from about 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet 10 inches in thickness. Immediately above the coal, there was a strong cliff or shale which was 11 feet thick but in places that was a clod from about one inch to 15 inches thick. The colliery was well laid out and equipped with modern machinery for a large output.

The coal was worked by the longwall method. One portion, where the main roof rock approached within a few inches of the coal seam, and the coal in that district was worked on the “Nottingham System” in which the stall roads were 50 to 60 yards apart and trams were taken along temporary rails parallel and close to the face, the road being moved forward laterally every 6 or 9 feet as the face advanced. This system was discontinued about a year before the disaster and all the remaining workings were carried on by the ordinary longwall with the stall roads about 12 yards apart which was the practice of the district.

In the longwall method, the whole of the seam is removed by the forward working, all the roadways are necessary for ventilation and the haulage has to be made and maintained through the gob or goaf. This is done by stowing any clod or stone taken don by the colliers, most of the small coal that is made, the stone that is ripped in the roadways back from the face and rubbish from falls and debris gathered in the roads and air courses. As well as the gob walls there were cogs of timber supporting the sides of the roadways and double timbers on the roadways supporting the roof where timbering seemed necessary by the management.

The workings were divided into three districts and at the date of the explosion, there were eight of these working. There were four on the west side of the shaft which was known as Grover’s Side and four of the east side which was known as the Cilfynydd side. On Grover’s side the main level extended 1,136 yards from the shaft and the last 53 yards had been stowed and it was not being extended. On the right-hand side of this level at a point, 708 yards from the shaft was the Llanfabon dip. At 118 yards further on was John Morris’s Dip and a further 254 yards on was Ned Owen’s dip, 108 yards from the shaft. The workings reached from these three dips were called the No.1 district. It contained 2,521 yards of roadways and 41 working places which occupied a face 545 yards long. The total length of the face opened out was 844 yards at the time and a portion of it had reached its boundary.

Eight hundred and twenty yards from the shaft along Grover’s level there was an entrance to Asket’s heading, 112 yards was Tom William’s heading and 97 yards beyond this was Nelson’s heading. The workings in these three headings formed another district which was described as No.2 district in which there were 3,260 yards of roadways and 41 working places in an unbroken line 528 yards long. In addition, there was a short length of face adjoining this level but was not in operation. This made a total length of face in this district of 623 yards.

Coming back towards the shaft and within 185 yards of it was the entrance to Dudson’s heading which was extended 1,126 yards to the rise the workings on both sides of which above Wedging’s heading forming No.3 district. This embraced 3,244 yards of roadways and 59 working places extending for 792 yards all of which were working. The workings reached by Dan’s heading which branched off to the left 396 yards up Dudson’s heading were included in the No.4 district. This was made up of 12 working places 176 yards long and there was a further 286 yards which were not being worked at the time. Dan’s heading was 484 yards long and the average length of the branches and stall roads in operation was 875 yards.

On the Cilfynydd side branching off to the left at 194 yards from the shaft along the level was the Pantduu dip which had been driven 814 yards passing Mordecai’s level at 473 yards, D. Thomas’s level at 616 yards and Parker’s level at 686 yards. The 44 working places in this district was called the No.5 district and 594 yards of face were being worked. The total length of the workings in this district was 2,590 yards. Following the Cilfynydd level, William Rees heading was to the rise at 806 yards from the shaft and David Rees heading 180 yards further are reached and beyond this there was one short heading to the rise and another to the dip. The total length of the Cilfynydd main level was 1,100 yards. The number of working places in this No.6 district was 27 with a length of face of 338 yards. The total length of roadways in the main level was 1720 yards.

Opposite the entrance of the Pantddu dip was Bodwenarth incline which was driven 1092 yards to the rise. On the left side of this incline was David Rees level at 608 yards, Boucher’s level at 862 yards and Mathew’s level at 963 yards from the entrance. These workings formed the No. 7 district and comprised 43 working places with a face length of 537 yards and a total length of roadways amounting to 2,602 yards. On the right-hand side of the same incline were Dobb’s level at 711 yards and Curley’s level at 824 yards and included 42 working places on a length of 540 yards without a break and 2,438 yards of roadways that made up the No.8 district.

At the date of the explosion, there were 4,041 yards of working face and over 17 miles of roadways in use for haulage and ventilation at the colliery.

The principle haulage was by main and tail ropes which were driven by two steam engines, one on each side of the downcast shaft, fixed immediately over the main road, 42 yards on Grover’s side and 28 yards on the Cilfynydd side. These engines were supplied with steam from two boilers placed in two separate galleries on each side of the shaft between the main intake and main return 33 and 37 yards respectively from the downcast shaft.

The engine planes on Grover’s side comprised that working to Asket’s heading with branches down Llanfabon and John Morris’ dips. Another worked on Dudson’s heading to within 150 yards of the face with a branch along Dan’s heading 385 yards from its entrance off Dudson’s heading. On the Cilfynydd side of the shaft the engine plane extended to William Rees heading on the main road. There was branch down Pantddu dip 600 yards and another up Bodwenarth incline 600 yards long. The total length of the haulage worked by engine power was 4,543 yards. All other haulage was done by horses of which there were 121 in the pit.

The ventilation of the colliery was produced by a Schiele fan fifteen and a half feet in diameter exhausting from the upcast shaft and providing 235,000 cubic feet per minute. The air splits were well arranged and the air crossing with the exception of two was made in the solid. The mine made firedamp in considerable quantities and had a history of strong blowers and outbursts. Gas was seldom reported by the firemen in their statutory reports and they stated at the inquiry that they did not report gas that had collected by brattice sheets being down or from other accidental causes. Mines inspectors found that accumulations of gas were rare in the 12 months before the explosion and believed the mine to be unusually gas-free. No complaint had ever been made to Mr. Robson, the Inspector for the district about accumulations of gas.

The mine was light by bonneted Clanny lamps in accordance with the provisions of the Coal Mines Regulation Act 1887. There were electric lights at the colliery but these were out of order and had been for some time before the accident. Open Comet lamps were used near the bottoms of the shafts and naked lights were allowed at each of the lamp stations of which there were seven in use for the day shift and two for the night shift, one on the main level and the other at the entrance to the Pantddu dip. The only other naked lights that were allowed in the mine were the boiler fires of each side of the shaft.

Explosives were not used to get coal nor in the removal of the shale immediately above the coal but they were used in ripping rock to maintain the height if the roadways. Explosives were also used for removing timbers when the roof subsided. The officials said that the timbers were only blasted down when they were supporting a strong roof and in positions where the span was less than 13 feet. This was an unusual procedure and will be referred to later. The explosive used was gelatine-dynamite and gelignite. Shots were fired by a fuse and the firemen and overmen were the only ones permitted to fire shots. A man in each shift was appointed to take charge of the detonators, explosives and fuse. The manager had given instructions that shots were to be fired only in the intervals between shifts but this had not been carried out, at least on the day of the explosion.

The seam produced large quantities of dust which was deposited on the roadways and was shaken and blown by trams as they passed on they to and fro the faces. With the exception of a few stalls which were damp all the stalls were dry and dusty. A little water passed through the roof but generally, this had little bearing on the dryness of the mine. On Grover’s side, a little water was pumped by a horse pump from a short dip through lines that were laid to the sump of the shaft. It was said that water was allowed to leak from the joints in the pipe and through holes bored in the pipe. About seven casks of water per day were filled in the Llanfabon dip and this was put in the roads of the Nos.1 and 2 districts.

Water that was collected in No.5 district in the Pantddu dip was pumped to a tank 418 yards from the entrance of this dip off the Cilfynydd level which was on the rise side of an upthrow fault and was high enough for the water to run through a line of pipes out of the level. As a result of the road rising there was a swamp hollow in which the water lay.

On the left-hand side of the Bodwenarth incline, a small quantity of water was pumped from the face straight on to the road and allowed to find its way to the shaft. This wet the floor for only 160 yards and it got drier nearer the shaft. A supply of clean water was brought from the surface by pipes for the horses and sometimes the tap was left on and water flowed along Grover’s level but the mine was dry and dusty with deposits of coal dust on the sides, floor and roof of the roads.

Coal was worked by day and by night but only twenty-five per cent of the production was made at night. There were about 1,020 people working underground during the day shift and 524 on the night shift. On the first five working days of the week, there was an interval between the day shift ending at 5 p.m. and the night shift starting at 7 p.m. and there was also an interval between the night shift finishing at 5 a.m. and the day shift starting at 7 a.m. On Saturdays, no coal was raised after 2 p.m. at the end of the day shift and the night shift immediately began to descend with no interval between the shafts. This had been in operation for five or six weeks before the disaster and the alteration had been made on the request of the workmen to enable them to finish at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

Road repairing and cleaning were carried out during the week in both shifts but Saturday afternoon was devoted to clearing away the rubbish and dust from the main roads of the colliery. The colliery had been rapidly developed since work commenced in the latter half of 1887. Before the end of that year, as much as 1,000 tons a day had been raised. The output for the week ending 23rd June, the day of the disaster was 9,542 tons of which 7,170 tons were cut by day and 2,372 tons cut at night. 338 acres of the seam had been exhausted at the time of the disaster.

The explosion occurred at 3.45 p.m. on the 23rd June 1894 when a loud report was heard and the earth shook to its very foundations. The dusting and repairing shift had descended two hours before and those on the surface were startled by two loud reports in quick succession followed by a rush of smoke and dust from both shafts. No flame was observed at the mouth of the shafts but the men were blown backwards a momentarily blinded by the rush of dust. Those nearest the shaft felt a hot blast and had their eyelashes scorched.

The houses of the village were built on the mountainside and the people rushed to their doors to look over the valley. The sight that met their eyes told the whole story. The complete top of the Albion colliery was blown to pieces and large beams were hurled in all directions. There was a rush of people to he colliery and the colliery officials found themselves surrounded by a great crowd before they had decided what was to be done. Men volunteered to go down the mine but for a long time dense smoke came from the shaft and any descent would have been foolhardy. Only when this smoke decreased was a rescue party organised under the manager Philip Jones but before they could descent the cage had to be repaired.

The first blast blew away some planking round the top of the downcast shaft and displaced the wooden covering from the top of the fan drift but the fan was not damaged and was still in operation. Temporary repairs were made tote fan covering and the manager, undermanager and others made a descent in one of the cages. The cage went slowly down the shaft, the men not knowing what damage to the shaft might have been done in the explosion. The cage reached the shaft bottom and the explorers set out. There were now thousands of people at the pit head as news spread from village to village and men, women and children hastened to the spot over the mountains.

It was soon established that a serious explosion had taken place as bodies were found hear the bottom of the shaft. In a little while, the explorers came across some that were alive but suffering from the effects of afterdamp, burns or both. These men were attended by Dr. Little, the medical officer at the colliery who had gone down the mine with the explorers. It was not for two hours that the cage came up and it contained only one occupant. More volunteers were called for and in a short time, the cage went down again with another band of explorers. Another hour of suspense was spent by those at the surface and the word was received that many bodies had been found and that were few survivors.

Shortly after, sixteen came to the surface more dead than alive and were carefully tended by doctors waiting at the surface. Of the sixteen eleven were found on the Cilfynydd side and five on Grover’s side but only five recovered. The others died of their injuries. Ten of the eleven brought out of the Cilfynydd side were found at the entrance to the Pantddu dip and the air crossing 83 yards along the road. It was thought that they had travelled from the workings in Pantddu after the explosion had occurred. The eleventh man was able to give evidence at the inquiry and said that he was at the lamps station when the explosion occurred and he saw a blue flame coming from the shaft but heard nor felt nothing and remembered nothing else.

It was impossible to ascertain the exact number in the mine at the time of the explosion. On that night and for some days afterwards, all that was known was that 13 cageloads of 20 men in each had descended at 2 p.m. and two fitters had gone down just before the explosion. There was no means of knowing how many men of the day shift had stayed down. At the time it was thought that 295 men had lost their lives.

John Evans, the night overman, William Roberts, the man in charge of the explosives on the shift and six night firemen were in the mine with a large number of labourers who were not known to the manager, undermanager of the day firemen.

Mr. Robson and two Assistant Inspectors of Mines, Mr. F.A. Gray and J. Dyer Lewis arrived from Swansea and Neath at 11 p.m. and after a short consultation at the surface went down the pit where they met William Lewis and Phillip Jones who were with Mr. J. Mancel Sims, an Assistant Inspector of Mines. By 3 a.m. on Sunday, Mr. Robson and his party had penetrated as far as the double parting on Grover’s side on the outer side of Asket’s heading and 90 yards down the Llanfabon dip where their progress was stopped by very heavy falls.

Before the Inspectors went down, bodies had been found on the main levels and removed and little else had been done so the Inspectors were able to examine the mine thoroughly and noted the dryness of the floors in the main roads. Later they were able to study the whole mine and try to ascertain whether it was coal dust of firedamp that had been responsible for the explosion.

Every time the cage came to the top there was a rush of people to the pit bank and heartrending scenes took place as wives, mothers and sisters recognised the burnt figures on the stretchers. Of the sixteen who were rescued seven later died from their injuries. The work below ground continued all night and by 8 a.m. on Sunday morning eighty-six bodies had been recovered and there was little hope of anyone being left alive in the mine. Wails of anguish greeted this news.

The recovery of the bodies was hampered by large falls of roof and in some cases, the men had been buried and were crushed beyond recognition. The rescuers toiled day after day and by Thursday two hundred and sixty bodies had been recovered. The explorers told some pitiful tales. Because of the falls and the afterdamp, they were unable to answer calls for help they heard and on many occasions had to run for their lives.

Some of the scenes that they saw were appalling. In one place there were five bodies heaped together. They had fought for life and one man was found with his cap, which he had wetted with tea from his bottle, at his lips in the hope of keeping the afterdamp at bay. A little further on lay the bodies of two men but they could not be reached until the ventilation had been taken forward. Many of the victims were naked with their clothes burnt off by the blast. Several of the victims were impossible to identify.

It was soon apparent that the blast had passed through the whole mine with the exception of the Pantddu dip where two horse were found alive. There were indications of great force and a body, believed to be that of one of the firemen, was found literally blow to pieces.

A member of Parliament visited the scene and was appalled by what he saw. In one house lay the bodies of a father and his four sons. The funerals of the victims took place over three days and all work was suspended over that time. Thousands of people attended and the processions were over two miles long. For hours the work of burying the dead went on. Welsh hymns were sung and as each band of mourners dispersed, their place was taken by another coffin.

The two hundred and ninety victims are listed in the official report on the disaster.

Those who were brought out of the pit alive but died later:

  • William Farrow aged 34 years,
  • labourer, Walter Osborne aged 26 years, ripper
  • John Lewis aged 40 years, ripper,
  • Samuel Evans aged 26 years, stoker,
  • Richard Williams aged 25 years, labourer.

Those killed in the explosion:

  • James Quartley aged 30 years, ripper.
  • Frank Joyce aged 24 years, labourer.
  • John Evans, aged 49 years, overman.
  • James Cullan aged 26 years, assistant ripper.
  • William Oliver aged 55 years, ripper.
  • Arthur Jennings aged 21 years, labourer.
  • Richard Herbert aged 48 years, ripper.
  • Thomas Jones aged 28 years, ripper.
  • William Dobbs aged 39 years, fireman.
  • Gilbert Roff aged 16 years, door-boy.
  • David Watkins aged 26 years, haulier.
  • Thomas Burton Jones aged 32 years, ripper.
  • John Evans aged 25 years, ripper.
  • Lewis Howells aged 32 years, ripper.
  • John Hughes aged 17 years, door-boy.
  • William Pary aged 20 years, haulier.
  • Isaac Comely aged 22 years, labourer.
  • Hugh Pugh aged 27 years, timberman.
  • William Jones aged 29 years, ripper.
  • William Roberts aged 39 years, ripper.
  • William Morris aged 42 years, collier.
  • Richard Owen aged 20 years, haulier.
  • Benjamin Stubbs aged 17 years, door-boy.
  • Arthur Timbs aged 30 years, labourer.
  • Evan Davies aged 17 years, shackler.
  • Morris Ashton aged 33 years, timberman.
  • Llewellyn Rees aged 43 years, ripper.
  • George Watkins aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • William Richards aged 19 years, labourer.
  • George Provis aged 33 years, ripper.
  • Charles Sanders aged 43 years, assistant ripper.
  • Walter Price aged 21 years, haulier.
  • Henry Morgan aged 18 years, haulier.
  • William Hughes aged 25 years, ripper.
  • William Williams aged 47 years, haulier.
  • John Ashton aged 27 years, ripper.
  • John Stott aged 32 years, haulier.
  • William Thomas Hopkin aged 20 years, haulier.
  • Joseph Grey aged 20 years, shackler.
  • Thomas Evans aged 38 years, ripper.
  • David Pugh aged 27 years, ripper.
  • John Webb aged 38 years, assistant timberman.
  • George Williams aged 35 years, haulier.
  • William Jones aged 26 years, fitter.
  • Thomas Haynes aged 17 years, door-boy.
  • David Owen James aged 25 years, stoker.
  • John Evans aged 48 years, fitter.
  • John Parfitt aged 45 years, labourer.
  • Sidney Cox aged 22 years, assistant ripper.
  • Hugh Pugh aged 32 years, ripper.
  • James Stevens aged 40 years, labourer.
  • Frank Topp aged 22 years, labourer.
  • Thomas Smith aged 31 years, engine-man.
  • Edmund Daniels aged 16 years, door-boy.
  • John Heridge aged 25 years, roadman.
  • David Llewellyn aged 39 years, timberman.
  • Richard Thomas aged 30 years, haulier.
  • Edwin Godwin aged 47 years, labourer.
  • James Burns aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • Edward Bowden aged 14 years, door-boy.
  • Ellis Jones aged 40 years, ripper.
  • Nathaniel Edwards aged 19 years, haulier.
  • Owen Hughes aged 25 years, ripper.
  • David Morris aged 40 years, roadman.
  • John Kerslake Cann aged 28 years, pumper.
  • George Burford aged 20 years, haulier.
  • David Griffiths aged 36 years, fireman.
  • Hugh Jones aged 22 years, pumper.
  • William John Harding aged 16 years, shackler.
  • Thomas Evans aged 19 years, rider.
  • George Evans aged 30 years, ripper.
  • Evan Gronow aged 24 years, rider.
  • Thomas Morgan aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • Rees Jenkins aged 33 years, assistant ripper.
  • Edward Jones aged 60 years, labourer.
  • Philip Fletcher aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • John Thomas aged 29 years, haulier.
  • Evan Morris aged 30 years, labourer.
  • David Price Davies aged 32 years, timberman.
  • Henry Charles Hooper aged 32 years, haulier.
  • Patrick Kahon aged 20 years, cogman.
  • Robert Parry aged 40 years, ripper.
  • George Manders aged 32 years, haulier.
  • Philip John Guard aged 18 years, haulier.
  • Benjamin Enyon aged 58 years, shackler.
  • Morris Lennon aged 24 years, haulier.
  • Alexander Addis aged 27 years, roadman.
  • Cornelius Gronow aged 36 years, master haulier.
  • John Coles aged 23 years, haulier.
  • Richard Jones aged 60 years, ripper.
  • Edward Croncombe aged 50 years, labourer.
  • Thomas Powell aged 50 years, ripper.
  • John Williams aged 50 years, ripper.
  • Richard James aged 20 years, labourer
  • William F. Jones aged 49 years, ripper.
  • John Shaddock aged 23 years, hitcher.
  • Hugh Roberts aged 37 years, ripper.
  • John McGrath aged 23 years, labourer.
  • Levi Evans aged 45 years, ripper.
  • Robert Jones aged 25 years, assistant ripper.
  • Evan Edwards aged 19 years, labourer.
  • Timothy Jones aged 26 years, ripper.
  • Richard Thomas aged 20 years, haulier.
  • Frederick Leonard aged 35 years, shackler.
  • Samuel Taylor aged 20 years, assistant ripper.
  • James Colvill aged 21 years, haulier.
  • Richard Bowden aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • John Bevan aged 31 years, timberman.
  • William Morgan aged 24 years, ripper.
  • Thomas Jenkins aged 42 years, ripper.
  • Walter Webb aged 20 years, labourer.
  • George Pearce aged 40 years, ripper.
  • George Hunt aged 17 years, cogman.
  • James Hunt aged 49 years, cogman.
  • George Boyce aged 17 years, door-boy.
  • Thomas Gittins aged 26 years, ripper.
  • Enock Clarke aged 16 years, door-boy.
  • John Dimond aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • Henry James aged 37 years, ripper.
  • Edward Bennett aged 50 years, ripper.
  • John Biddle aged 19 years, collier.
  • Daniel Jones aged 25 years, haulier.
  • William Evans aged 29 years, assistant ripper.
  • William Jones aged 18 years, collier.
  • Patrick Burns aged 20 years, labourer.
  • Walter Searle aged 20 years, labourer.
  • Joseph Hughes aged 29 years, ripper.
  • Joseph Shepherd aged 24 years, labourer.
  • William Humphreys aged 30 years, labourer.
  • Evan Jones aged 37 years, ripper.
  • Edward John Thomas aged 16 years, door-boy.
  • William Jones aged 31 years, timberman.
  • Thomas Rees aged 33 years, ripper.
  • John Jones aged 37 years, ripper.
  • David King aged 20 years, door-boy.
  • William Thomas aged 28 years, ripper.
  • John Morgan aged 38 years, haulier.
  • Thomas Powell aged 35 years, master haulier.
  • Adam Roberts aged 42 years, labourer.
  • William Price aged 29 years, haulier.
  • William Henry Lewis aged 26 years, haulier.
  • John Cox aged 32 years, labourer.
  • William Griffiths aged 24 years, ripper.
  • James Allen aged 35 years, labourer.
  • George Pugley aged 20 years, labourer.
  • James Tickle aged 23 years, labourer.
  • William Gronow aged 33 years, master haulier.
  • Albert Edward Thomas aged 25 years, fitter.
  • William Barr aged 29 years, labourer.
  • William David Edwards aged 19 years, haulier.
  • Walter Berridge aged 21 years, assistant timberman.
  • William Thomas aged 30 years, haulier.
  • Patrick Furlong aged 19 years, labourer.
  • John Hearne aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • Walter Real aged 21 years, labourer.
  • Stephen Downs aged 22 years, haulier.
  • Frederick Carp aged 25 years, labourer.
  • Samuel Brain aged 31 years, labourer.
  • John Cannings aged 39 years, engineman.
  • John Mears aged 40 years, labourer.
  • William Bates aged 40 years, labourer.
  • Thomas Winter aged 30 years, shackler.
  • Thomas Henry Harper aged 28 years, labourer.
  • William George aged 21 years, ropeman.
  • Daniel Daves aged 35 years, labourer.
  • Charles O’Connell aged 23 years, labourer.
  • Benjamin Skym aged 29 years, ripper.
  • Johnathan Rees aged 29 years, ripper.
  • John Gregory aged 26 years, labourer.
  • Patrick O’Donnell aged 21 years, labourer.
  • John Rees aged 38 years, labourer.
  • Richard Roberts aged 18 years, labourer.
  • Emanuel Gilfoyle aged 34 years, labourer.
  • William Chamberlain aged 21 years, labourer.
  • John Kings aged 32 years, ripper.
  • Sidney Hazel aged 32 years, ripper.
  • Rowland Jones aged 39 years, ripper.
  • Lewis Jones aged 21 years, ripper.
  • Frederick Saunders aged 21 years, labourer.
  • John Bryans aged 24 years, haulier.
  • William Rogers aged 23 years, haulier.
  • William Henry Frost aged 21 years, labourer.
  • John Charles Pugsey aged 25 years, labourer.
  • James Rowe aged 25 years, hitcher.
  • James Toozer aged37 years, labourer.
  • Edward Rees aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • Robert Smith aged 23 years, haulier.
  • Thomas Hughes aged 48 years, ripper.
  • David Owen aged 22 years, labourer.
  • Samuel Burgess Vile aged 31 years, labourer.
  • William Hurrell aged 38 years, labourer.
  • Charles A. Jones aged 19 years, labourer.
  • John Edward Davies aged 26 years, labourer.
  • Edward Williams aged 39 years, labourer.
  • John Gould aged 24 years, labourer.
  • James Cronin aged 28 years, haulier.
  • William Brown aged 17 years, labourer.
  • Patrick Barrett aged 50 years, labourer.
  • David Owen Griffiths aged 17 years, labourer.
  • John James Pingcombe aged 24 years, assistant ripper.
  • Humphrey Jones aged 39 years, ripper.
  • William Knott aged 53 years, labourer.
  • Peter Smith aged 19 years, door-boy.
  • Timothy Sullivan aged 47 years, labourer.
  • William Williams aged 23 years, ripper.
  • Albert John Davies aged 17 years, labourer.
  • Eli Facey aged 36 years, labourer.
  • Charles Jones aged 25 years, labourer.
  • David Morris aged 44 years, timberman.
  • William Williams aged 30 years, timberman.
  • John James aged 30 years, ripper.
  • James Jones aged 27 years, fireman.
  • Reuben Heyballs aged 23 years, labourer.
  • Richard Gronow aged 26 years, master haulier.
  • George Winter aged 31 years, haulier.
  • Richard Davies aged 20 years, haulier.
  • Timothy Daley aged 17 years, labourer.
  • William Henry Pulsford aged 33 years, ripper.
  • David Daniel Hughes aged 19 years, labourer.
  • Owen Thomas aged 18 years, door-boy.
  • John Jones aged 17 years, labourer.
  • Charles Spencer aged 25 years, assistant timberman.
  • Frederick Weeks aged 22 years, labourer.
  • James Pockwell aged 34 years, labourer.
  • Henry Lewis aged 39 years, fireman.
  • Thomas Robinson aged 40 years, labourer.
  • Walter John Packman aged 26 years, master haulier.
  • Henry Howe aged 43 years, ripper.
  • William Evans aged 46 years, ripper.
  • Joseph Thomas aged 17 years, door-boy.
  • Stephen Evans aged 28 years, ripper.
  • Richard Reeves aged 23 years, labourer.
  • Richard Evans aged 28 years, ripper.
  • John Griffith Roberts aged 39 years, ripper.
  • David Davies aged 37 years, ripper.
  • John Harris aged 34 years, haulier.
  • Thomas Prout aged 365 years, ripper.
  • Henry John Bale aged 23 years, labourer.
  • Richard Griffiths aged 26 years, haulier.
  • Issachar Willliams aged 49 years, labourer.
  • Richard Bluck aged 28 years, haulier.
  • Thomas O’Leary aged 17 years, door-boy.
  • Frederick Emett aged 19 years, door-boy.
  • Richard Roberts aged 36 years, ripper.
  • Thomas Jenkins aged 24 years, ripper.
  • Robert Jones aged 40 years, ripper.
  • George Lemon aged 33 years, ripper.
  • Herbert Allard aged 22 years, assistant timberman.
  • Cornelius John Horrell aged 22 years, labourer.
  • John Evans aged 25 years, ripper.
  • John Lloyd aged 47 years, labourer.
  • James Jones aged 27 years, labourer.
  • Charles Gulliford aged 17 years, door-boy.
  • Charles Hughes aged 16 years, haulier.
  • William Ware aged 35 years, haulier.
  • John Rees aged 38 years, timberman.
  • Samuel Morgan aged 23 years, assistant ripper.
  • Thomas Lowe aged 42 years, ripper.
  • Thomas Lennon aged 18 years, haulier.
  • David Evans aged 38 years, fireman.
  • Roderick Jenkins aged 38 years, haulier.
  • Edwin Powell aged 35 years, haulier.
  • David Morgan aged 36 years, ripper.
  • John Lumley aged 41 years, ripper.
  • Elias Davies aged 36 years, timberman.
  • William Jones aged 26 years, labourer.
  • James Rees aged 38 years, ripper.
  • William Harvey aged 25 years, labourer.
  • Benjamin Tucker aged 20 years, haulier.
  • Arthur George Willett aged 27 years, labourer.
  • Those recovered from the pit but not identified:
  • Thomas White aged 21 years, labourer,
  • Edwin Williams aged 39 years, ripper,
  • David Jones aged 23 years, ropeman,
  • Thomas James aged 33 years, ripper,
  • Evan Pearce Evans aged 33 years, ripper,
  • Henry Evans aged 30 years, timberman,
  • John Enos Jenkins aged 35 years, ripper,
  • Morgan Lloyd aged 32 years, ripper,
  • Thomas Powell aged 31 years, timberman,
  • Jason Parry aged 23 years, labourer,
  • Thomas Murphy aged 24 years, labourer,
  • George Knight aged 30 years, labourer and
  • John Jones aged 26 years, labourer.

The inquiry into the Disaster at Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd on the 23rd June 1894, was conducted by J. Roskill, Esq., Barrister-at-Law and by J.T. Robson, Esq., Henry Hall Esq., and Joseph S. Martin, Esq., Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Mines and presented to the Right Honourable H.H. Asquith, Q, M.P., the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

One of the survivors, George Bamford said he was working with others at the double parting on Mordecai’s level in No.5 district when the explosion occurred and he gave his description to the inquiry. He said:

I heard a sound like thunder, the biggest I have ever heard. I heard two sounds without scarcely an interval. Each just the same noise. I thought it was an explosion and I stood where I was. I heard a door between us and the engine parting open and shut with a bang. The level directly after was filled with dust and our lamps went out. There were four of us together and two inside. I think I saw a shade of flame in the dust a bluish colour. It was coming above us along the roof. I was standing up, The place was 7 feet high. We started off to walk down the Pantddu dip. We met afterdamp in the parting near the dip. The flame and dust passed over us and we came out. In the Pantddu dip, the afterdamp was very strong and I recollect no more until I came to myself when Dr. Little and Henry Watkins were with me at the air bridge. I heard someone say at home that it was about 8 o’clock when I got out. I was not singed by the flame except a little on my eyelashes.

After an exhaustive enquiry which lasted nine days before Coroners R.B. Reece of Cardiff and R.J. Rhys of Aberdare when all interested parties were represented and evidence heard, a jury of 17 men returned the verdict that:

The jury find that the deceased had lost their lives through an explosion of gas at the Albion Colliery on the 23rd June 1894 which explosion was accelerated and extended by coal dust but the jury disagrees as to the exact place at which the explosion had its origin, and we are unanimous of the opinion that shotfiring as practised in the colliery when men are at work, without sufficient precautions as to their safety and contrary to rules we are also of the opinion that the under-manager neglected his duty in not seeing that his subordinates in the night shift performed their duties in accordance with rules that the firemen were negligent in reporting gas when found and that there is not a proper system of watering in the mine. The jury beg to make the following recommendations:

    1. That shot firing in timber shall be absolutely prohibited.
    2. That old workings shall be properly stowed or gobbed.
    3. That a record of men in the mine shall be kept at all hours.
    4. That thorough inspections shall be more frequently made by Her Majesty’s Inspectors, because we consider the present examinations by the workmen’s representatives worthless.

The Inspectors commented on the verdict of the jury:

It will be seen that the jury did not connect the explosion with shot-firing though their first and strongest recommendation had reference to blasting. Possibly the evidence of the mining engineers, bring in direct opposition to that rendered by ourselves and Messrs. Gray and Sims gave rise to the uncertainty in their minds to this matter.

 For the same reason, probably, they were unable to agree to the place where the explosion started.

 In other respects the verdict is entirely in accord with our views.

 We think the omission by the owners representative to arrange blasting, when he sanctioned the alteration of the hours on Saturdays, a most serious oversight.

 With reference to the recommendations of the jury we desire to make the following observations:

1. As to shot-firing in timbers, we concur in their recommendation that this should be absolutely prohibited. It is unnecessary to remove timbers by blasting as they can be removed in other ways, and, indeed, having recourse to explosives for this purpose is most unusual and contrary to good mining. Until this explosion happened we had never heard that such a thing was attempted.

2. That all old workings should be properly stowed and gobbed. This is desirable for safety in longwall workings, but so long as old workings are adequately ventilated in a mine it is not necessarily by reason of old workings left open in a colliery. We are of the opinion that the proportion of old workings left open in the colliery were not excessive moreover, that such as did exist had no influence in extending the explosion and thus increasing the loss of life.

3. That a record of the number of men in the mine shall be kept at all times. This is also a reasonable recommendation. In safety lamp collieries it can be readily carried out provided each person on taking his lamp from the lamp room on the surface leaves in its place a token or tally with a number corresponding to that of his safety lamp.

4. We do not agree with the jury that workmen’s inspections are useless on the contrary we think that, when properly carried out, as they generally are in South Wales and Monmouthshire, they cannot fail to do good.


The Mines Inspectors Report.
Reports to the Right Honourable The Secretary of State for the Home Department on the Disaster at Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd on the 23rd. June 1894 by J. Roskill, Esq., Barrister-at-Law and by J.T. Robson, Esq., Henry Hall Esq., and Joseph S. Martin, Esq., Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Mines.
Stories from the Mines. The Sunday School Union.
“And they worked us to death” Vol.2. Ben Fieldhouse and Jackie Dunn. Gwent Family History Society.

Information supplied by Ian Winstanley and the Coal Mining History Resource Centre.

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