Senghenydd Colliery Disaster

The Senghennydd Colliery Disaster, also known as the Senghenydd Explosion, occurred in Senghenydd [ [ Miners' Rows, Senghenydd] ] , near Caerphilly, Glamorgan, South Wales on 14 October 1913, killing 439 miners. It is the worst Mining accident in the United Kingdom, and one of the most serious in terms of loss of life globally since.


The demand for Welsh steam coal before World War I was enormous, especially from the Royal Navy and its huge fleet of steam battleships, dreadnoughts and cruisers, and also foreign Navies allied to Britain and the British Empire. Coal output from British coal mines was at its peak in 1914, and there were a correspondingly large number of terrible accidents. The worst of these was at the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd and occurred as a result of a coal dust explosion that travelled through most of the underground workings.

Probable cause

It was probably started by a firedamp (methane) explosion, itself possibly ignited by electric sparking from equipment, such as electric bell signaling gear. The initial firedamp explosion disturbed coal dust present on the floor, raising a cloud that then ignited in its turn. The shock wave ahead of the explosion raised yet more coal dust, so that the conflagration was effectively self-fueling. Those miners not killed immediately by the fire and explosion would have died quickly from afterdamp, the noxious gases formed by combustion. These include lethal quantities of carbon monoxide, which kills very quickly by combining preferentially with haemoglobin in the blood. The victims are suffocated by lack of oxygen.


Three memorials to the disaster are located in Senghenydd. The first is a memorial outside Nany-y-parc Primary School, which is built on the site of the old mine. At St. Cenydd Comprehensive School, lies a list of names of those who died from the explosion, and they have a truck of coal as a memorial. On Senghenydd square, inscribed upon the big clock centred in the middle of the road, are the names of the many miners who perished in the disaster. [ [ Memorial of Senghenydd mining disaster] ]

ee also

*Coal mining
*History of coal mining
*List of United Kingdom disasters by death toll
*Mine disasters


*Duckham, Helen and Baron, "Great Pit Disasters: Great Britain 1700 to the present day", David & Charles (1973)

*Brown, John H., "The Valley of the Shadow: An account of Britain's worst mining disaster, the Senghennydd explosion", Alun Books (1981)

*Phillips, J. Basil, "Senghennydd: A Brave Community", The Old Bakehouse (2002)

* [ Wilson, Matthew, "The Senghenydd Explosion", Your Family Tree, September 2006: 28-30.]

External links

* [ Virtual Tour of the Aber Valley]
* [ Gathering the Jewels: The Website for Welsh Cultural History]
* [ Senghennydd Postcards]
* [ Coal Mining History Resource Centre]
* [ South Wales Police Museum]
* [ Wales on Air: The Senghenydd Tragedy]
* [ BBC Radio 4, Making History, 7 October 2003: The Senghenydd Colliery Disaster, 1913] STREAMING AUDIO
* [ Welsh Coal Mines - brief histories of all Wales' pits]

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