WERFA. Aberdare, Glamorganshire. 4th. September, 1851.

Werfa Colliery was owned by Nixon and Company with Mr. John Nixon and three partners, Mr. James Evans, Mr. Thomas Edwards Heath and Mr. David Williams. The colliery was sunk in 1846. It was worked by a water balance with the water being pumped up by a steam engine. The shaft was oval, 13 feet by 20 feet and sunk about 66 yards to the bottom of the sump. Fourteen colliers were killed when a chain broke in the balance pit and sent them down the shaft, 180 feet to their deaths. Eleven of the men killed were in the descending cage and two in the ascending one.

The accident occurred at 7 a.m. and news quickly spread through the neighbourhood but it was quickly learned and passed on to the waiting crowd that all the men were dead, killed instantly.

The men who died were:

  • John Perkins aged 36 years, single.
  • David Humphrey aged 29 years, married with two children.
  • Thomas Humphrey aged 11 years.
  • Thomas Lewis aged 27 years, married with two children.
  • John Rogers aged 35 years, married with one child.
  • David Williams aged 20 years, single.
  • Richard Humphrey aged 37 years, married.
  • William Jones aged 28 years, married.
  • Rees Morgan aged 41 years, married with eight children.
  • David Watkins aged 27 years, single.
  • Thomas Griffiths aged 17 years, single.
  • David Lewis aged 22 years, single.
  • William Gole aged 16 years, single.
  • John Anthony aged 13 years.
  • John Rogers,
  • Rees Morgan,

Thomas Griffiths was in the ascending cage.

The inquest was held before Mr. Overton, Coroner for the district. John Nixon was examined and told the court that he had found a bucket rod broken after the accident. Thomas Evans, a collier at the colliery asked the hitcher is everything was all right. He thought there were too many men in the descending bucket. He was at the edge of the pit and was nothing wrong and no man jump.

Richard Clayton was at his post at the bottom of the pit at the time of the accident when he saw the buckets falling down. He heard a noise and stepped out of the way. He found two of those who were ascending and one in the descend party in the sump. The rest were in the bucket. A smith from Merthyr gave evidence as to the state of the metal but no firm conclusions could be drawn from his evidence.

The Coroner summed up and the jury came to the conclusion:

That is was Accidental Death caused by the breaking of the iron rods which connected the cross and the bucket, but we cannot separate without expressing our disapproval of the present system of letting down workmen to their work in the same way as materials are got up and we recommend that drifts should be made to all similar works so as to enable the workmen to go to work without danger.


Mines Inspectors Report, 1855. Mr. Mackworth.
The Illustrated London News, 13th September 1851.
The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian.

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

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