Wrexham’s greatest tragedy, the Gresford Colliery disaster, will be remembered with a memorial ceremony marking the 88th anniversary.

The annual memorial ceremony will be held at Miner’s Wheel Memorial in Pandy at 11am on Thursday, September 22. This is a short informal service, which everyone is welcome to attend.

The disaster, which occurred in the early hours of Saturday, September 22, 1934, affected the whole of Wrexham with almost every village in the county borough losing someone. The tragedy took the lives of 266 local men and boys.

At 2.08am, a violent explosion tore through the Dennis Section of the Gresford Colliery mine, leaving an underground fire.

It was a particularly busy shift as many miners were ‘doubling up’ so they’d be free to watch the Wrexham match on Saturday afternoon against Tranmere Rovers. 

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Over 200 rescue workers were sent down in an effort to rescue the miners. All they recovered were 11 bodies – three of them belonging to the first rescue team. One of the rescuers described that mine as being ‘just like hell’.

Once news reached town, crowds began to gather around the mine – women and children waiting for loved ones who would never return.

After 40 hours of toiling, it became clear to the rescuers there was nobody alive left to save, so they decided to close the shafts at 6pm on Sunday afternoon.

What is often overlooked when discussing the disasters is the aftermath and the effect it had on the victims’ families and fellow workers. The explosion left 200 widowed, 800 fatherless and 1,600 jobless.

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This was in a time when women weren’t provided with the same opportunities as men. Losing a husband left more than a grieving widow, it left a widow with the responsibility of providing for herself and her children without a source of income.

The rest of the men employed at the mine were forced to look for other jobs – often to no avail. The future seemed bleak for Wrexham; survival alone would become a struggle for many. It would be six months until the mine re-opened.

The tragedy became national headline news and even received recognition from the King. Word travelled about the struggling families and a relief fund was established to aid those in need. More than £550,000 was raised in total, however the lives lost could never be replaced.

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This year marks 88 years since the 266 men and boys lost their lives.

Wrexham Mayor Cllr Brian Cameron said: “The Gresford disaster affected the whole of Wrexham, with almost every village in the county borough losing someone. It’s an incredibly sad part of our history in Wrexham, and one that we will never forget.”