Miners remembered 77 years after Gresford disaster

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

THE MINERS killed in the tragedy at Gleision Colliery will be remembered at the 77th anniversary of the Gresford mining disaster.

September 22 marks the day 266, people were killed in one of Britain’s worst mining accidents at Gresford in 1934, only a week after four miners were killed at the Gleision Colliery near Swansea.

“It’s so uncanny that it happened just before the anniversary,” said Ruby McBurney, 79, from Gresford, whose father William Henry Crump died in the 1934 tragedy.

She said every year there was gathering at the memorial wheel in Gresford, for those who had loved ones in the disaster.

Rev Canon David Griffiths, who will be conducting the service, said the Gleision Colliery four would be mentioned.

“They will be remembered in the prayers on that day, as will those lost in mining accidents all over the world.

“It’s a commemoration that says we’re not forgetting them. Upon those miners rests our heritage,” he said.

Retired miner Ted McKaye, from Gwersyllt, said: “While we’re remembering what happened at Gresford, we should think about the fact families are still there waiting at pit heads today.

Mr McKaye was a miner’s agent and safety inspector with the National Union of Miners (NUM).

Speaking of the recent tragedy in South Wales he added: “How could this have happened?

“Everybody here, especially old mining people will have felt the pain. One would think it would be unthinkable in this day and age.”

He said he thought he would never see such an accident again.

“It belonged in the 19th century,” he said.

The Gresford remembrance service will take place by the memorial wheel at 11am tomorrow. 

A VETERAN miner who survived being buried more than 30 years ago has also expressed his intense sadness over the tragedy which hit the Gleision Colliery.

Robert Alun Jones, 60 of Johnstown, said he worked in the mining industry across the Wrexham area for more than 20 years, including Gresford, Bersham and Hafod.

“I would like to send my condolences to everyone who has been affected by this disaster and also say God bless to all those who have been rescuers.

“As a miner you always feel distressed when colleagues are in trouble.

“I remember in 1976 when I was buried with three others at Bersham. At the time we were working the coal face and the roof was fragile. Then it caved in. We had to dig ourselves out and managed to get back to safety.

“In many ways to be a miner is very much like being a soldier in the army, you have to be tough. The general public should be aware of the dangers which miners face when they carry out their work.”

Mr Jones added: “I am from Johnstown born and bred. There is a very big mining tradition around here. My family has been working in the pits for generation after generation.”

Mr Jones finished as a miner with the closure of Bersham Colliery in the late 1980s.

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