At 8.00am on Tuesday 14 October 1913 a huge explosion rocked the tiny town of Senghenydd,. The explosion, and subsequent release of poisonous gas, at the Universal Colliery claimed the lives of 439 miners, making it the most lethal mining disaster in British history..
An electrical spark may have caused the explosion by igniting methane gas,(Firedamp) the explosion caused coal dust lying on the floor of the mine to rise and explode. The blast was so violent that the cage of the Lancaster pit was even blown back up the shaft to jam in the pithead winding gear.
The rescue teams did manage to find men and boys still alive in the wreckage, however, as the days wore on, survivors grew fewer and the carrying out of bodies became the norm.
The rescue attempts lasted for three weeks although, by then, It was estimated that over 1,000 people in the area were bereaved by the disaster. And despite the enquiry finding faults that could be laid at the door of the owners, compensation and fines were levied came to a total of £24 making a miners life was valued at 1s 1 1/4d’
Universal Colliery was back in use by the end of November 1913 and full production was again achieved by 1916.
The Rest records for the months of October and November 1913 show that 12 miners were admitted over a two week period the youngest being aged 15 and the oldest aged 40.
injuries ranged from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and broken bones.
The normal charge of 1s 6d per day was not made for their stay at the rest.