The Abercynon Colliery tragedy of 1906 1 month 3 weeks ago #74076
The mine, in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales, had opened in 1889, and, prior to 1906, eight men had died in an underground accident in 1893 and six in 1895. The one in 1906, which saw the last underground fatalities there, had five deaths - final closure of the mine was in 1988. What was a bit different about 1906 was the partial culpability of the men, who had ignored written instructions not to leave workings early and to gather at the bottom of the pit shafts. I've taken the main description of the accident from a Carmarthen newspaper, as one of the two fatalities most of interest to us was from there.
Abercynon Colliery in 1906
Pit Disaster at Abercynon.
FIVE MEN KILLED; 6 INJURED.
A CARMARTHEN MAN KILLED.....Five men lost their lives and six were seriously injured on Saturday afternoon in the South Pit of the Abercynon Colliery of Messrs Guest, Keen, and Nettlefolds, as the result of a journey of 24 coal-laden tram running wild down a slope from the inside workings, and dashing into a crowd of workmen congregated at the pit bottom waiting to be taken to the surface. When the news reached Carmarthen a number of families in the tow became anxious as to whether any of their relatives had been killed or injured, as there are a number of Carmarthen men working in these pits.
....The accident happened about 1.45 p.m. It was pay day, and the men, in their hurry to get out, had, it is alleged, reached the pit bottom a little before their time. The point is raised that they were forbidden by the rules to be on the road before the work of hauling the trams had ceased. This, however, it is contended by the colliers, goes on up to the very last moment in many pits, the management being eager to get out as much coal as possible. Many of the men were sitting, collier fashion, on their haunches on the side of the road; some were standing chaffing and joking; others were again leisurely strolling towards the shaft - but all bent upon getting out of the darkness of the mine into daylight above for the welcome weekend. Suddenly, with startling suddenness, came a roar and a crash; as the death-dealing trams, swift as lightning, hurled themselves upon the men down the slope, scattering the crowd like leaves before the wind. Close to the pit bottom, right in the track of the escaped "journey" stood a number of empties. In the collision that ensued, the runaways were smashed to atoms; coal and wreckage were hurled with terrific force right and left, and the hapless colliers, who a moment before were blithe and gay, laughing and merrymaking, were now enveloped in a dense, choking cloud-dust of coal and debris, while the air was rent with the agonising cries of the wounded and the groans of the dying. At a point 150 yards inside the workings from the pit bottom, one link in the chain connecting the journey to the main-and-tail rope had snapped. The track thence to the pit was down a slight gradient. Released from the rope, the "journey" gaining impetus as it sped along, took but a second or two to reach top-speed, and thus, without a moment's warning to the workmen in front, it shot to its destination, and the mischief was done.
....Not a moment was lost by the rescuers. Help was quickly at hand. A body of gallant fellows, skilled in the art of first aid, were soon busily at work, the while another band of willing workers were clearing the wreckage and bringing out the stricken. Mr Bruce Jones, the manager, had the telephones set going, and medical men summoned. Happily, the shaft was uninjured, and the accident having taken place close to the pit bottom, it was found an easy task to send stretchers down and bring up the injured. The lamp-room on the surface was converted into a temporary hospital, and here the injured men were first taken. Dr A. J. Griffith (Abercynon( and Dr Leight, of Treharris (the colliery doctors); Dr Little, of Cilfynydd; Dr Morton, of Nelson; Dr Lewis, Pontypridd; Dr William, Treharris; Dr Proctor, Abercynon, were all present, and the poor fellows who could be treated had their wounds expeditiously dressed ere they were carried homewards.
....Some, however, were beyond all human aid - Morgan Richards, collier, was brought up dead. He was a married man, aged about 40, and was a well known ex-railwayman on the T.V.R. [Taff Valley Railway] , and landlord of a little beerhouse known as the Royal Oak, which stands on the canal side about half a mile away on the Merthyr side of the village. Henry Campbell Jones, aged 39, an airway man, was alive when the bearers laid his mangled body down at his lodgings, No 38, Gertrude street, Abercynon, but an hour later he succumbed to spinal and internal injuries. Herbert Moon (31), single, lodged at 10, Wood street, Cilfynydd, three miles away, and thither he was conveyed, but just as the house was reached the poor fellow breathed his last. Later in the evening Ernest Watts, of 91, Cardiff road, Abercynon, who had sustained severe spinal and abdominal injuries, passed away, whilst Alfred Alexander Harpar, of Police row, Norton Bridge, expired on Sunday morning, making the fifth death. Two men - Joseph Morris, aged 35, rider, 12, Taff View, Abercynon, and Jeremiah Dunn, aged 35, fitter, Abercynon - were so badly injured about the legs, it was feared immediate amputation would be necessary, and they were sent with a special train to Cardiff and conveyed to the Infirmary.
Henry Campbell Jones.
(Photo by T. Jenkins, Mountain Ash). ........................
....Henry Campbell Jones, 38, Gertrude-st., Abercynon, is a son of the late Mr John Jones, of the Barley Mow, Catherine Street, Carmarthen, and had only worked at the Abercynon Colliery since August last. He enlisted when comparatively young in the 21st Regiment, and served with the colours for about six or seven years, most of the time at Malta. Some 16 years ago he left the Army, and came to work at Mountain Ash, living at Cefnpennar, and here four years after he married. His wife died a couple of years ago. When the Boer war broke out, the deceased volunteered for active service in South Africa, and served for 20 months with his regiment. During his 15 years' residence at Cefnpennar he worked at the Deep Duffryn Collieries of Messrs Nixon.
....The funeral of the late Mr Jones took place on Wednesday, the interment being at Carmarthen.
The Carmarthen Weekly Reporter, Friday 4th May 1906
Scene at the colliery: Bringing out the injured.
THE KILLED.....The following is a list of those who lost their lives: -
....1. Morgan Richards, airwayman, and landlord Royal Oak Inn, Abercynon, married, five children. Broken leg and fractured spine.
....2. Herbert Moon, labourer, single, lodging 10, Wood-street, Cilfynydd, died on way home. Deceased was a native of Canton, Cardiff, and was an ex-soldier, having served with the Dorsetshire Regiment in the South African war. Injuries, fractured pelvis and rupture. Deceased's brother, Mr Robert Moon, resides in Cornwall-street, Grangetown.
....3. Hy. Campbell Jones, airwayman, widower, no children, 38, Gertrude-street, Abercynon. Death occurred two hours after accident from internal bleeding. Deceased was a native of Carmarthen, and served in the South African war. Fractured spine.
....4. Ernest Watts, airwayman, married, two children, 91, Cardiff-road, Abercynon. Death supervened four hours after accident. Fractured spine and internal injuries.
....5. Alfred Alexander Harpur, assistant repairer, 78, Police-row, Norton Bridge, Pontypridd. Deceased leaves a widow and seven children, the eldest being only 13 years, and the youngest 11 months. Death took place on Sunday morning. Injuries, crushed right leg and arm.
The Cardiff Times, Saturday 5th May 1906
....The remains of Herbert Moon, the last of the unfortunate victims of the Abercynon Pit smash, in which five lost their lives, were laid to rest at the Cardiff Cemetery on Thursday afternoon. A large number of wreaths covered the coffin, which was borne on the shoulders of four of deceased's comrades. The cortege proceeded from 31, Cornwall street, Grangetown, where deceased's body was conveyed, and a large crowd witnessed its last journey.
Tarian Y Gweithiwr, Thursday 10th May 1906
It seems likely that Jones was interred in Carmarthen Cemetery. I've not yet found in exactly which cemetery in Cardiff Moon was interred - probably Cathays Cemetery, but there are also a couple of smaller ones.
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The Abercynon Colliery tragedy of 1906 1 month 3 weeks ago #74107
What I don't understand about Herbert Moon's death is how there could be seven doctors treating the injured at the colliery, yet he was sent off to his home three miles away. On a cart? Were none of them able to diagnose a fractured pelvis? No wonder he died on the way.
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