October 14th 1913, the morning shift has just started at the Universal Collery in a small village in the South Wales valleys. 950 workers went underground, 439 of those men and boys were never to come home. At 8.10am the pit hooter was sounded to alert the people in the Aber Valley to the worst pit disaster in the UK. One man also lost his life in the subsequent rescue mission.
October 14th 2013, the original pit hooter was sounded from the site where the mine shaft would have stood. A valley stopped in memory of the 439 who lost their lives that day. Many of us can tell stories of family members who were killed in the explosion, or like in my case, men whose lives were saved due to not working that day.
Today is poignant for all of us living here in the former mining village not just because of the huge loss of life but because this is our history. Every family living here would have at least one male working in the mines, if not more. Women in the village waved their loved ones off everyday not knowing whether they would return at the end of the day. 100 years ago today, 205 women became widows and 542 children were left fatherless.
Every year on this date the whole school would walk down to the memorial and hold a special service for the lost miners. Today on the 100 year anniversary of the disaster, the lost will finally have national recognition. Recognition for the work they did for the country. Recognition of the devastation left behind.
Next month the whole country will stop to remember those who lost their lives fighting for the country. Today let’s just stop and remember those who lost their lives working to keep this country in fuel. Without whom the country would have ground to a halt.
A full roll call of those who lost their lives can be found here.