National mining memorial

October 2013 saw the opening of the new Welsh National Mining Memorial and Universal Colliery Memorial Garden in Senghenydd.

The central bronze sculpture entitled ‘The Rescue’ was designed and made by sculptor Les Johnson.

The ceramic name tiles for the Memorial Wall were made at a series of community and school workshops during November 2012. These were led by ceramic artists Ned Heywood and Julia Land from Chepstow and involved all the local Primary Schools of the Aber Valley.

The ceramic paviers documenting each national colliery disaster in Wales were also made by Ned and Julia at their workshop.

The Memorial Garden’s layout and planting scheme was designed by landscape architect Stephanie Wilkins.

Universal Colliery Memorial Garden


Opening Times

Winter Opening  1st October – 28th February 9am until 4pm
Summer Opening  1st March – 30th September 9am until 6pm


Memorial Garden postcode is CF83 4GY
Please see the how to find us page for directions


Toilet (including disabled toilet facilities) available at Senghenydd Community Centre (10am-4pm Monday to Saturday).

Refreshments available at the Tea Room in Senghenydd Community Centre (from May 1st open 10am-4pm Monday – Saturday).

The Proposal

Plans are being developed for a Welsh National Mining Memorial that will be based on the site of the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd, home of the largest ever coal mining disaster in the United Kingdom.

Given the rich history of the colliery, and the tragedy which occurred there together with its significant contribution to the Welsh coal industry, it would be a fitting tribute for a Welsh National Mining Memorial to be located here, the very first of its kind in Wales.

It is planned that the site in Senghenydd will be transformed into a fitting memorial which will include a landscaped garden, wall of remembrance, feature memorial statue and a small car park.

The Story so far

The project was developed by the Aber Valley Heritage Group with support from Caerphilly Council, GAVO and Groundwork Caerphilly. The Group was established as an independently constituted organisation in 2009, after starting life as a sub group of the Aber Valley Communities First Partnership. Its membership is made up of local residents, representatives of community groups and local organisations.

The Group is in the process of securing a parcel of land within Senghenydd for the development of a memorial sculpture and garden in order to commemorate those who lost their lives within the Welsh Coal Mining Industry. It is anticipated that this will tie in with the commemoration of the forthcoming centenary of the Universal disaster on 14th October 2013.

Placing a Welsh memorial at this location is appropriate given that the Aber Valley Heritage Museum has already attracted visitors from outside of the area, including other parts of the UK and as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Peru. In addition, a book of support for the project contains over 1132 Signatures.

The Heritage Group has been extremely proactive in taking forward this project and has gained widespread support from the Aber Valley community. The Group has been actively raising funds for a Universal Memorial Wall, that will feature on the site. The wall will feature individual ceramic tiles detailing the name, age and address of each victim of the disaster. The community has been invited to ‘sponsor a tile’ and the monies raised will be used as match funding for the wider landscaping scheme. A ceramic artist will engage with the local community and schools running workshops so they can become involved in actually producing the tiles. The local schools and young people will also be involved in other activities including research work, digital storiesand oral history projects.

It is anticipated that the memorial will consist of a larger than lifesize figurative sculpture cast in bronze, stood on a plinth made from local stone. At between 4-5 metres, the centre piece will hold a commanding presence and will overlook the location of the original mine.

Monday 14th October 2013 marks 100 years since the explosion at the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd, which killed 440 workers and is recognised as the UK’s worst mining disaster.

A number of services and events will be held throughout the day in Senghenydd, including the unveiling of the Wales National Mining Memorial and Memorial Gardens..



A typical act of bravery took place on 17th August 1917 when Sgt Gilbert Lloyd, (Senghenydd), South Wales Borderers who, together with five others soldiers, held an isolated position until his battalion had been relieved and then brought out their wounded whilst still under fire.

He was awarded the MM at a local ceremony held on “The Rec” in August 19, 1919.  At this same ceremony where the villagers turned out in their thousands to see Colonel H E Morgan Lindsay, CB, DSO award the decorations to Sgt Lloyd and the men and also to the families of those Killed in Action (KIA). All listed below.

Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)   Military Medal (MM)

Cpl. Tom Locke Sapper Robert Jackson

Pte. William Higgs Bdr. H C Fleet

Dvr. R G Taylor

Gnr. David Davies

Sgt. King Humphries

Pte. Syd Edwards


Distinguished Conduct Medal Military Cross (MC)

Sgt. T H Brown (KIA) Lt. J A Roberts(KIA)

(accepted by his wife) (accepted by his father)

Photo of Sgt Gilbert Lloyd


Wounded on three occasions before winning the MM in 1917.  Became a


Lieutenant in Home Guard, Aber and

and Senghenydd Platoon 1940-46.

Secretary of local Ex-Servicemen’s

Club for over 50 years.