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jenkinsbrynmair 

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Hard this day and hard the sorrow,
Heavy lies the dawn,
Dread the time no life to borrow,
Mournful and forlorn.

Memories that lie within me,
Haunt me with their thought,
Ever there and always will be,
Leaving me distraught.

Prayers are sent for hope and healing,
Prayers are not returned,
Understand how we are feeling,
Grief is never spurned.

Hard this day for all around us,
Woman, child or man,
Those with age and love around us,
Grieve for, `Aberfan`.
Mick, a Staffordshire miner
 

Murox 

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Never forgotten the deep shock, our then local priest knew the people and area well.
 
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Erichalfbee 

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Yes I remember. I was 15 and in a world of my own but this pierced it like an assassin’s stiletto.
Year later I met and married a journalist who had been a young shell shocked reporter at the scene.
 

pargyle 

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I remember it, I was 16, I lived in the heart of the South Yorkshire mining community - the shock wave felt around us was very strong; we were used to mining deaths and injuries but Aberfan was avoidable, and criminal and those children were innocent victims ... a number of local Mines rescue teams went down to help with the digging ... it changed lives. Miners, at the time faced the risks associated with mining and almost accepted them as part and parcel of the job but Aberfan was something else. There were plenty of slag heaps in South Yorkshire where I lived and as a result of Aberfan they gradually disappeared or were made safe. It's hard to think it was 55 years ago.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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My mother was pregnant with me at the time. My father was working on constructing the local Woolworths - he'd been sent home the day before as he was seriously unwell (they'd found him huddled between the two pitch boilers, cold and delirious) so he could but lie in bed listening to it all unfold, Dr Powell the local GP commandeered a bus from our local garage and took a load of locals up there, he was told 'we don't need doctors' his reply - 'give me a bloody shovel then!' I remember dad relating the tale to friends, always with a lump in his throat, even as a kid then the enormity of the tragedy sunk in with me - our local coal tip was only a hundred yards from our shop and even after they started stabilising it, I vaguely recall black slurry spilling into the kitchens of the houses opposite us during rainstorms. The tip was only a field away from our primary school and even now when I see old photos from the thirties and even fifties it's terrifying to see how close they were to the heart of the village
 
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CLB 

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I was seven and just as shocked and horrified by it then as anything I’ve seen on the tv news since. It still gives me goosebumps to think of all those innocent children and their families
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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A works colleague of SWMBO is from Aberfan - from that generation actually, he was off school that day for some reason. He's the only survivor from that class and it still affects him. SWMBO always makes a point in hanging around him on the anniversary as she doesn't make a fuss just be there in case. Now we're working from home she rang him earlier, spent ages on the phone, he had a awful day, his mother now has dementia and not long in a care home and noone thought to mention it to the carers. He was called down there this morning as she'd seen it on TV and had swiftly stepped back to 1966 and was reliving all the panic and grief that every mam was experiencing on that day.
He lost the whole of his age group, felt guilty that he survived and apparently felt the whole community's resentment that he had survived. It was so terrible for him that his headmaster sponsored him to attend a boarding school so that he wasn't a daily reminder to everyone else and got some peace himself.
 

The Poot 

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I was 12 and the full horror of it didn’t register at the time. I just remember parents reactions and shock.
 

Amari 

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Yes, I was reminded of the disaster two days ago when I visited the Big Pit museum at Blaenafon. As a child in the 40s-50s, in a mobile family, I lived in South Wales, Mexborough - Yorkshire coalfield - (as did Pargyle) and a mining village in the Durham coalfield. Slag heaps everywhere. It was heart-warming this week to see how well the slag heaps have been landscaped and many turned into recreational areas.
The Big Pit museum was chilling: children from age five employed to open and close the fire doors then from age seven to push the trolleys of coal. From 1842 the lower age limit became 10. No women underground after 1872. Men dying of pneumoconiosis/silicosis age 45.
I did the underground tour: bent double to avoid hitting my helmeted head on the low tunnel ceilings. Nearly did me in!

 

pargyle 

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My grandfather worked in Denaby Main colliery ... not as a miner ... he looked after the Pit ponies... in those days (1920s to 40s) most mines used ponies for pulling the tubs ... indeed they were still in use in some pits up to the 1970s. Mu grandad reckoned that the ponies were better treated than the miners ... the ponies welfare was protected by law ... the miners were not ! Grandad loved his ponies... I think after going through WW1 in the remount section of the REME, working with horses pulling guns and ammunition to the front, he found some peace working with the ponies....he suffered from chest problems as a result of being gassed in the war and from the dust in the mines and died an old man at 77 years. We don't appreciate what past generations faced as a normal part of their working life....
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Mu grandad reckoned that the ponies were better treated than the miners ... the ponies welfare was protected by law ... the miners were not !
People don't realise that in the bigger collieries they didn't just use ponies but larger horses known as colliers (sort of a mini cob/draught horse) My grandfather's friend used to breed both and before my grandfather went underground, he was a farmhand, one of his jobs was to herd sheep to Islwyn's farm and neighbours and bring back horses and ponies for the local mines.
Our local MP from 1936 Jim Griffiths (also known as the grandfather of the NHS, he introduced the National Insurance act) was lodge secretary for the local coalfield before entering parliament and one fight he took on early in his career was injury/accident compensation for miners and widows. The terrible reality was, the compensation paid to a miner's widow was less than the insurance paid for a horse killed underground!
 

Amari 

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My grandfather worked in Denaby Main colliery ... not as a miner ... he looked after the Pit ponies... in those days (1920s to 40s) most mines used ponies for pulling the tubs ... indeed they were still in use in some pits up to the 1970s. Mu grandad reckoned that the ponies were better treated than the miners ... the ponies welfare was protected by law ... the miners were not ! Grandad loved his ponies... I think after going through WW1 in the remount section of the REME, working with horses pulling guns and ammunition to the front, he found some peace working with the ponies....he suffered from chest problems as a result of being gassed in the war and from the dust in the mines and died an old man at 77 years. We don't appreciate what past generations faced as a normal part of their working life....
People don't realise that in the bigger collieries they didn't just use ponies but larger horses known as colliers (sort of a mini cob/draught horse) My grandfather's friend used to breed both and before my grandfather went underground, he was a farmhand, one of his jobs was to herd sheep to Islwyn's farm and neighbours and bring back horses and ponies for the local mines.
Yes, on the underground tour of the Big Pit we were shown a row of about a dozen pony stalls, each with its harness hanging on a hook. The ponies were lowered down the mine shaft suspended in a harness. They were taken up and put on grass once a year (if I remember correctly) but with eyes blinkered to start with to protect their eyes from sudden daylight.
At the end of their working life, before nationalisation in 1948, they were taken up for the last time, shot and the carcass sent to the knackers. After '48 they were sent, by law, to sanctuaries.
 

Amari 

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Our local MP from 1936 Jim Griffiths (also known as the grandfather of the NHS, he introduced the National Insurance act) was lodge secretary for the local coalfield before entering parliament and one fight he took on early in his career was injury/accident compensation for miners and widows. The terrible reality was, the compensation paid to a miner's widow was less than the insurance paid for a horse killed underground!
Presumably the father of the NHS was Nye Bevan, Labour MP for Tredegar. SWMBO was born in Tredegar Cottage Hospital, a year after the start of the NHS.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Presumably the father of the NHS was Nye Bevan,
Yes, he and Jim Griffiths went to college together on a miner's scholarship in 1919
The first NHS baby was born in our local hospital, which had been run as a community hospital funded by subscriptions from local miners and tinplate workers since it's founding in 1936, She was named Aneira after Bevan, met her a few times, she's a lovely lady.
 

Bryang 

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In 1954 my dad, who was a "safety/first aider" underground took me down the old Maerdy colliery, think it was No 2 shaft. The pit had closed many years before, but they were keeping the water pumps working to prevent flooding in the Ferndale pit, and as a "safety" worker one of his jobs was to check the pumps on a weekly rota. He showed me around the underground stables, where he was a "pony boy" when he first started work. They were on three tiers, the lower was for the ponies, approx 30 of them. the tier above was for the larger horse (he called them "trap" ponies) there was 10 of these. Then the top tier was for 5 "draught" horse that worked in the "mains" hauling the full drams to the "lifts". I was 11 yrs old at the time.
Unfortunatley we are still having colliery waste tips slipping in this area. One which is approx 1000 mts from my house slipped in Feb/March 2020 when 20,000 tonnes slid down and blocked the river..
 

pargyle 

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It's fascinating isn't it ? The changes in our lifetime are going to be the social history taught to our grandchildren ... I hope that someone has thought to document all these bits of history whilst there are still people alive who can actually remember them at first hand !
 

elainemary 

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View attachment 28798View attachment 28800


Hard this day and hard the sorrow,
Heavy lies the dawn,
Dread the time no life to borrow,
Mournful and forlorn.

Memories that lie within me,
Haunt me with their thought,
Ever there and always will be,
Leaving me distraught.

Prayers are sent for hope and healing,
Prayers are not returned,
Understand how we are feeling,
Grief is never spurned.

Hard this day for all around us,
Woman, child or man,
Those with age and love around us,
Grieve for, `Aberfan`.
Mick, a Staffordshire miner
A very moving verse. I was also moved by ‘the Crown’ season 3, with their portrayal of the Queen’s indecision to visit (eventually visited after 8 days) but the brilliant performance of Jason Watkins, as PM Harold Wilson who arrived that evening after the tragic accident

 

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