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Lewis Merthyr Colliery Disaster

The 60th anniversary of the Lewis Merthyr Colliery disaster has been marked at Rhondda Heritage Park, the site of the former colliery, with a commemorative event.

Among those who attended the event on Tuesday (November 22) was former miner Ivor England, who was working at the Lewis Merthyr Colliery at the time of the disaster.

An explosion occurred at the Lewis Merthyr Colliery at 7.15am on Thursday, November 22, 1956.

Two people died instantly and a further seven later died of injuries sustained. Five others were also injured.

Sixty years on, a special commemoration event has been held at the colliery site to remember the tragic events of 1956 – a time when the colliery employed more than 1,000 men and produced around 1,250 tonnes of coal per day.

Mr England, now aged 80, was working on the day shift at the time and recalls how the exiting night shift workers warned of treacherous conditions in the Trefor pit.

He said:

“I was well out of danger, but even in the Bertie pit we felt a ‘whoosh’ of air, almost like you get before a tube train pulls into the station. We were ordered back to the surface and there was already police, ambulances and mines rescue crews arriving at the scene.

“I just remember feeling utterly useless. It just made you realise how random life is. On a different day I could have been working in that sector.”

The 60th anniversary commemoration event was organised by the Friends of Rhondda Heritage Park, in association with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

The nine men who died during the 1956 Lewis Merthyr Colliery disaster were: E Howells; S Thomas; A Atkins; AT Davies; A R Fox; G Jones; R Jones; J H Mills; P Profitt.

Cllr Joy Rosser, Cabinet Member for Prosperity Wellbeing and Communities, said:

“It is with great sadness that we reflect on this terrible time in history and remember those who were tragically killed on that day. We also remember the five colleagues who suffered horrific injuries on that day.

“Coal production at the colliery site ceased in 1983 and the Lewis Merthyr Colliery was transformed into the Rhondda Heritage Park, which attracts families from around the world.”

As a mark of respect on Tuesday, November 22, 2016, the colliery chimneys will be illuminated after 5pm.