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TOPIC: Ferndale explosion: Valley of children without fathers

Ferndale explosion: Valley of children without fathers 08 Nov 2017 14:35 #4828

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By Gwyneth Rees; BBC Wales News

My Old local area

Wales may be a nation built on coal, but it is also one built on tragedy.
And nowhere was this felt more than the Rhondda Valley.
During the industry's heyday in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, 53 pits were sunk in the region, and the 40,000 strong workforce lost countless lives to pit falls and accidents.
Miners knew that, at some point, their pit was likely to be visited by disaster.
And on Wednesday 8th November, 150 years ago in 1867, it was Ferndale's time.
Total killed: 178
Children left fatherless: 145
Wives left widows: 67
Age of youngest victim: 12 years
Number killed aged under 18: 54
An explosion - ripping through the mine, burning men and boys on site and causing a cascade of rock falls which would go on to suffocate countless others.
Describing the scene in a letter to The Times, engineer C. M. Barker, wrote, "The frightful sights, misery, and anguish here are indescribable.
"In one house, a father and three sons are lying dead, and nearly every cottage has a corpse or is waiting its arrival."
In the Aberdare Times, a further report recorded a "father and son laid out together on a board".
"The lad was not more than 13 years of age," it read. "There was a sweet smile on his face, and it was hard to believe that there had been anything like violence in his death."
But violence there was.

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