Aber Valley Heritage Museum
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Centenary of mining disaster commemorated


Wales National Mining MemorialThe centenary of the 1913 Universal Colliery mining disaster in Senghenydd, which resulted in the loss of lives of 440 men and boys, has been commemorated today (Monday 14th October) with the unveiling of the Wales National Mining Memorial.

The memorial, which is dedicated to all miners who lost their lives in mining disasters across the country, was officially unveiled earlier today by BBC Radio Wales personality and Patron of the Aber Valley Heritage Group Roy Noble, together with Chair of the Aber Valley Heritage Group, Jack Humphreys.

The First Minister, Carwyn Jones, was also present at the ceremony to lay a wreath at the memorial.

Residents of Senghenydd and surrounding areas turned out in their thousands to witness the unveiling of the memorial, which marked the 100 year anniversary of the worst ever British mining disaster, when 440 men and boys were killed in a mining disaster at the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd on 14th October 1913.

Jack Humphreys, Chair of the Aber Valley Heritage Group said, "The unveiling of the Wales National Mining Memorial statue and memorial garden today, I hope, will provide a fitting tribute, not only to those men and boys who died, and their families, in that devastating tragedy 100 years ago, but to all miners who lost their lives in mining disasters across the country."

He continued, "We are so grateful to all organisations, community groups and individuals whose funding and donations have made this impressive memorial possible."

The Wales National Mining Memorial and garden features: -

A bronze statue, designed by sculptor Les Johnson, which depicts a rescue worker coming to the aid of a survivor after a mining disaster. It is dedicated to all those who lost their lives as a result of mining.

A wall of remembrance dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Senghenydd Mining Disasters. The wall features ceramic tiles, each individually funded, detailing the name, age and address of each victim of the disaster. Local volunteers and school children helped ceramicist Ned Heywood to make the tiles, using hand-fired clay.

A path of memory, comprising a tile dedicated to each of the 152 mining disasters that have occurred across Wales. The tiles, again made by ceramic artist Ned Heywood list the name of the colliery, show the date of the disaster, the number of people who lost their lives and the tile sponsor. There is also a bespoke tile while acknowledges the lives lost in all other explosions/tragedies in Wales.

A memorial garden for contemplation, which has been landscaped using materials and methods utilised in the surrounding communities – including sandstone, lime and coal mortar. Giant oats in the memorial garden represent the horses that suffered too, and the 'pinhead planting' in the garden represents the bodies found and subsequently depicted on the inquest maps. The memorial garden was designed by Ty Mawr Garden & Landscape Design and constructed by Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd.

The First Minister said, "I am pleased that the Aber Valley Heritage Group has taken forward this initiative to develop a national mining memorial and I am delighted that we have been able to provide funding to support this.

"The Senghenydd tragedy has come to symbolise the dangers and sacrifices made by those who went underground in search of coal, but never returned home. It is fitting that this should be the location for a memorial dedicated to all the miners who have died in mining disasters across our nation."

Cllr Harry Andrews, Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council said, "I was so honoured to join residents of Senghenydd and the surrounding areas today in remembering the men and boys who lost their lives in mining disasters across Wales, on this, the centenary of the worst mining disaster in British history."

He continued, "The memorial and gardens will not only provide a priceless and fitting tribute to all the colliery workers who lost their lives in the mines, but will act as a suitable and prominent reminder of the rich mining heritage that is ingrained into our communities, which I am sure will be remembered for many generations to come."

Jennifer Stewart, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, added: "It's great to see that funding provided by the HLF has contributed towards the creation of such a poignant memorial to Wales' mining heritage. This industrial past is such an important part of our history, especially in the south Wales valleys, and this memorial will act as a permanent reminder to present and future generations about the role their ancestors played in that history."

Key funders for the Wales National Mining Memorial and gardens have included Aber Valley Heritage Group, Aber Valley Community Council, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Welsh Government's Tidy Towns, CyMAL and Heritage Lottery Fund, private donators and many more.


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.