Cymdeithas Hanes Teuluoedd Clwyd
Clwyd Family History Society
Clwyd FHS

The Gresford Disaster

The Gresford Disaster was one of the worst mining accidents to occur in Wales.

Work began at sinking the pit at Gresford, near Wrexham, in 1908 by the United Westminster and Wrexham Collieries. Two shafts were sunk, the Dennis (named after the industrialist Dennis family of Ruabon) and the Martin, which were 50 yards apart. Work was completed in 1911 and the mine was one of the deepest in the Denbighshire coal field, with the Dennis shaft reaching a depth of about 2264 feet and the Martin shaft about 2252 feet.

By 1934, 2200 miners were employed at the colliery, with 1850 working underground and 350 on the surface.

Some 19th century working practices were still in evidence in the pit although some mechanisation had been introduced. Prior to explosion there was evidence of heat and gas in colliery.

Gresford MemorialOn September 22, 1934 at 2:08 a.m. a violent explosion shook the Dennis section of mine, over a mile from the bottom of the shaft, and a fire took hold. At the time a total of 500 men were working underground at the colliery on the night shift, which was unusually high because some men had worked double shifts that night in order to be able to attend a carnival and football match the following day.

Only six men managed to escape from the Dennis section by climbing from the pit bottom by ladder. All of the other 262 miners working in that section were killed.

Within a few hours of the first explosion, large crowds of miners and relatives had gathered in silence at the pit head waiting for news.

Volunteer rescue teams from Gresford and other nearby collieries tried to enter the mine but were hindered by the ferocity of the fire and a lack of fire fighting equipment and water.

Three members of the rescue brigade were killed. Others fought the fire until the evening of following day but made little progress. By this time it was certain that all of the miners were dead and conditions in the pit were so dangerous that it was decided to cap both shafts to seal off the fire.

Further explosions occurred during which one of the seals on the shaft blew out and a surface worker was killed by the flying debris.

Only eleven bodies were recovered from the mine. Inquests recorded the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gresford MemorialThe Dennis section of the mine was never reopened and the bodies of the 254 victims were sealed in the mine.

In September of that year, 1100 Gresford miners signed on the unemployment register.

Relief funds were set up by the Mayor of Wrexham, the Lord Lieutenant of Denbighshire and the Lord Mayor of London, raising a total of over £500,000 for the dependents of the victims.

An inquiry opened October 25, 1934 and highlighted management failures, lack of safety measures, bad working practices and poor ventilation in the pit. The miners were represented at the Inquiry by Sir Stafford Cripps.

Gresford Colliery reopened six months after disaster with coal production resuming in January 1936.

In 1937, court proceedings were started in Wrexham against the Pit Manager, the Under-Manager and the United and Westminster Collieries Limited, the owners of the mine. The court found the mine's management guilty only of inadequate record-keeping.

Gresford Colliery finally closed on economic grounds in November 1973 and the site was developed as an industrial estate.

In 1982 a memorial to the victims of the disaster was erected near to the former colliery. It was constructed from the wheel from the old pit head winding gear.

Surname Forename Address Age Occupation
Anderson George Old Rhosrobin, Wrexham 67 Collier
Andrews Alfred Benjamin Road, Wrexham 43 Collier
Archibald Joe Finney Street, Rhosddu 47 Collier
Archibald Thomas Council Houses, Pandy 44 Collier
Baines David Victoria Road, Brynteg 26 Collier
Bateman Maldwyn Lorne Street, Rhosddu 15 Collier
Bather Edward Wynn Finney Street, Rhosddu 36 Collier
Beddows Edward The Woodlands, High Street, Gwersyllt 63 Collier
Bew Arthur Colliery Houses, Rhosddu 45 Collier
Bewdley Thomas Park Street, Rhosddu 58 Collier
Bowen Alfred Langdale Avenue, Rhostyllen 53 Collier
Boycott Henry Offa Terrace, Wrexham 38 Packer
Brain Herbert Pentrefelin, Wrexham 31 Collier
Bramwell George Western Road, New Broughton 30 Collier
Brannan John Ffordd Edgeworth, Maesydre, Wrexham 32 Collier
Brown George Birkett Street, Rhostyllen 59 Surface worker
Brown William Arthur Hightown Road, Wrexham 22 Haulage
Bryan John A.H. Llewellyn Road, Coedpoeth 20 Collier
Buckley A. Windy Hill, Summerhill 21 Collier
Burns Fred Bennions Road, Huntroyde, Wrexham 41 Collier
Capper John A. Wrexham Road, Broughton 35 Collier
Cartwright Albert Edward Florence Street, Rhosddu 24 Collier
Cartwright Charles Florence Street, Rhosddu 24 Collier
Chadwick Stephen Kenyon Street, Wrexham 21 Collier
Chesters Edwin Beales Cottages, Bradley 67 Fireman
Clutton Arthur Lorne Street, Rhosddu 29 Collier
Clutton George Albert March Terrace, New Rhosrobin 20 Collier
Clutton John T. Council Houses, Pandy 35 Haulage
Collins John Council Houses, Pandy 62 Shot Firer
Cornwall Thomas Bennions Road, Wrexham 30 Collier
Crump William Council Houses, Bradley 36 Collier
Darlington Thomas Mountain Street, Rhosllannerchrugog 39 Collier
Davies Arthur Havelock Square, Wrexham 24 Collier
Davies Edward Cyngorfa, Rhosllannerchrugog 53 Collier
Davies George William Farndon Street, Wrexham 26 Collier
Davies Hugh T. Holly Bush Terrace, Bradley 26 Collier
Davies James Williams Cottages, Moss 31 Collier
Davies James Boundary Terrace, Green, Brymbo 37 Collier
Davies James Edward Farndon Street, Wrexham 21 Collier
Davies John Meifod Place, Wrexham 64 Collier
Davies John Fernleigh, Rhosrobin Road, Wrexham 45 Collier
Davies John E. Bennions Road, Wrexham 32 Collier
Davies John R. Fernleigh, Rhosrobin 69 Collier
Davies Matthias Erw Las, Maesydre, Wrexham Collier
Davies Peter Newtown, Gresford 50 Collier
Davies Peter March Terrace, New Rhosrobin 25 Collier
Davies Peter Glanllyn, Bradley 21 Collier
Davies Robert Thomas Mountain View, Caego 34 Collier
Davies Samuel Woodland View, New Rhosrobin 35 Collier
Davies Thomas Erw Cottage, Caergwrle 31 Collier
Davies William Acton Terrace, Rhosnesni, Wrexham 33 Collier
Dodd Thomas Maeseinion, Rhosllannerchrugog 39 Collier
Duckett Fred Beech Terrace, Ruabon 29 Collier
Edge John Nelson Street, Hightown, Wrexham 28 Collier
Edge Samuel South Street, Rhosllannerchrugog 30 Collier
Edwards Albert Nr Kings Head, Moss 62 Collier
Edwards Ernest Green Road, Brymbo 16 Collier
Edwards E. Glyn Woodland View, New Rhosrobin 23 Collier
Edwards Ernest Thomas Queen Street, Rhosllannerchrugog 53 Collier
Edwards Frank Chestnut Ave, Acton, Wrexham 23 Collier
Edwards James Sam Top Road, Moss 87 Collier
Edwards John Edward Glanyrafon, Maesydre, Wrexham 39 Collier
Edwards John C. Coronation Cottages, New Road, Southsea Collier
Edwards Thomas David New Street, Rhosllannerchrugog 40 Collier
Edwards William Church Street, Rhosllannerchrugog 32 Collier
Edwardson John High Street, Gresford 41 Collier
Ellis George Council Houses, Pandy 43 Collier
Evans Fred Grange Road, Rhosddu 50 Collier
Evans John Ness Cottage, Park Wall, Gwersyllt 32 Collier
Evans Norman Grange Road, Rhosddu 45 Collier
Evans Ralph Pentre Lane, Llay 34 Collier
Fisher Len Maple Avenue, Acton 44 Collier
Foulkes Irwin Bryn Gardden, Rhosllannerchrugog 21 Collier
Gabriel Richard George Crispin Lane, Wrexham 61 Collier
Gittins Johm Henry Abenbury Street, Wrexham 42 Collier
Goodwin John Chapel Road, New Broughton 51 Collier
Griffiths Edward Brandie Cottages, Ruabon 21 Collier
Griffiths Ellis Cyngorfa, Rhosllannerchrugog 50 Collier
Griffiths Emmanuel High Street, Penycae 53 Collier
Griffiths Charles Gardd Estyn, Garden Village 25 Collier
Griffiths Frank Oxford Street, Wrexham 57 Collier
Griffiths Walter Victoria Road, Brynteg 50 Collier
Hall Walter Church Road, Brynteg 49 Collier
Hallam T.W. Railway Terrace, Gwersyllt 32 Collier
Hamlington Arthur Yew Tree Cottage, Summerhill 62 Collier
Hampson Frank Ruabon Road, Rhostyllen 32 Collier
Harrison Arthur Moss Hill, Moss 21 Collier
Harrison Charles Edward James Street, Wrexham 15 Collier
Hewitt Phillip Poplar Avenue, Rhosllannerchrugog 56 Collier
Higgins William Finney Street, Rhosddu 27 Collier
Holt Alfred Pentre Lane, Llay 31 Collier
Houlden John Henry Second Avenue, Llay 21 Collier
Hughes Cecil Tanygraig, Minera 23 Collier
Hughes Daniel First Avenue, Llay 56 Rescuer
Hughes Francis O. Acton Terrace, Rhosnesni 60 Collier
Hughes Harry Hill Crescent, Spring Lodge, Wrexham 44 Collier
Hughes John Percy Road, Wrexham 58 Collier
Hughes Peter Joseph Tanygraig, Minera 27 Collier
Hughes Robert John Lorne Street, Rhosddu 29 Collier
Hughes Walter Ellis Rosemary Crescent, Rhostyllen 24 Collier
Hughes William Long Row, Brymbo 43 Collier
Hughes William Jackson's Houses, New Rhosrobin 54 Rescuer
Humphreys Ben Vernon Street, Rhosddu 34 Collier
Humphreys John Edwards Road, Brynteg 30 Collier
Husbands Thomas Manley Road, Wrexham 40 Collier
Jarvis Ernest Ddol, Bersham 41 Collier
Jenkins William Heol Offa, Tanyfron 25 Collier
Johns Percy Ffordd Edgeworth, Maesydre, Wrexham 27 Collier
Jones Albert Edward Nelson Street, Wrexham 31 Collier
Jones Azariah Westminster Road, Moss 37 Collier
Jones Cyril Main Road, Rhosrobin 26 Collier
Jones Daniel Western Road, New Broughton 33 Collier
Jones David L. Colliery Road, Rhosddu 36 Collier
Jones Edward Woodland View, High Street, Gwersyllt 64 Collier
Jones Edward Queen Street, Cefn Mawr 56 Collier
Jones Edward George Ruabon Road, Wrexham 23 Collier
Jones Eric Rosemary Crescent, Rhostyllen 23 Collier
Jones Ernest Glan Garth, Maesydre, Wrexham 36 Collier
Jones Bill Glan Garth, Maesydre, Wrexham 14 Collier
Jones Evan Hugh Marion House, New Brighton, Minera 55 Collier
Jones Fred Woodland View, New Rhosrobin 30 Collier
Jones Frederick H.C. Bridge Street, Holt 31 Collier
Jones Francis Council Houses, Berse 27 Collier
Jones George Glan Garth, Maesydre, Wrexham 47 Collier
Jones George Humphrey Russell Street, Cefn Mawr 22 Collier
Jones Gwilym Glan Garth, Maesydre, Wrexham 52 Collier
Jones Henry Gordon Terrace, Rhosddu 59 Collier
Jones Idris Nant Road, Coedpoeth 37 Collier
Jones Iorwerth Bryn Dolwar, Rhosrobin Road, Wrexham 52 Collier
Jones Jabez Morgan Avenue, Rhosddu 43 Collier
Jones John Dan Williams Cottages, Moss 42 Collier
Jones John Richard Mostyn View, Coedpoeth 33 Collier
Jones John Robert Pentre Lane, Llay Collier
Jones Llewellyn Windsor Road, New Broughton 49 Collier
Jones Llewellyn Yew Tree Bungalow, Gresford 40 Collier
Jones Llewellyn Bersham Road, New Broughton 38 Collier
Jones Neville Ffordd Maelor, Maesydre, Wrexham 30 Collier
Jones Richard Henry Bryn Terrace, Ruabon 21 Collier
Jones Richard J. White House Lodge, Brymbo 34 Collier
Jones Robert Trefechan, Penycae 57 Deputy
Jones Robert Hillock Lane, Gresford 49 Collier
Jones Thomas Council Houses, Gresford 55 Collier
Jones Thomas E. Poolmouth Road, Moss Collier
Jones Thomas John Bryndedwydd, Marford Hill 58 Collier
Jones Thomas O. Penllyn, Trevor, Llangollen 59 Collier
Jones William Lorne Street, Rhosddu 51 Collier
Jones William Lloyd Street, Rhosllannerchrugog 21 Collier
Kelsall James Florence Street, Wrexham 30 Collier
Kelsall John Rose Cottage, Common Wood, Holt 37 Collier
Lawrence William Nelson Street, Hightown, Wrexham 43 Collier
Lee John Lee Heol Offa, Coedpoeth 30 Collier
Lee Thomas Heol Offa, Coedpoeth 16 Collier
Lewis David Merlin Street, Johnstown 44 Collier
Lewis David Thomas Middle Road, Coedpoeth 46 Collier
Lewis Jack Railway Terrace, Cefn y Bedd 48 Rescuer
Lilly Joel Main Road, Rhosrobin 41 Collier
Lloyd Thomas Colliery Road, Rhosddu 55 Collier
Lloyd William Finney Street, Rhosddu 59 Collier
Lloyd William Sidney Pentre Lane, Llay Collier
Lucas John Council Houses, Gwersyllt 59 Collier
Maggs Colin Talwrn House, Talwrn 17 Collier
Mannion Albert Hill Crest, Spring Lodge, Wrexham 29 Collier
Manuel Thomas A. Meadows Lane, Spring Lodge, Wrexham 33 Collier
Martin William Henry Newtown, Gresford 37 Collier
Matthews William V. Hill Street, Penycae 18 Collier
Mathias Samuel Eagle's Place, Moss 42 Collier
McKean John Cheshire View, Spring Lodge, Wrexham 30 Collier
Meade William St. John's Road, Wrexham 39 Collier
Mitchell George James Street, Wrexham 23 Collier
Monks Ernest Glanrafon, Bwlchgwyn 23 Collier
Morley Edward Council Houses, Bradley 57 Collier
Morris Alfred High Street, Penycae 20 Collier
Nichols Harry Ashfield Road, Crispin Lane, Wrexham 32 Collier
Nichols John Beast Market, Wrexham 29 Collier
Nichols William Henry Farndon Street, Wrexham 25 Collier
Owens Evan Henry Cunliffe Walk, Garden Village, Wrexham 54 Collier
Palmer Alex Kingstown, Maesydre, Wrexham 20 Collier
Parry Isaac Western View, Wrexham Road, Brymbo 40 Collier
Parry Joseph Western View, Wrexham Road, Brymbo 65 Collier
Parry John E. Pisgah Hill, New Broughton 31 Collier
Parry John Richard Manley Road, Wrexham 21 Collier
Penny Stephen Stansty View, New Rhosrobin 23 Collier
Penny William H. Council Houses, Pandy 32 Collier
Perrin Frank Finney Street, Rhosddu 23 Collier
Peters Henry Pentre Lane, Llay 38 Collier
Phillips George Trevanna Way, Spring Lodge, Wrexham 22 Collier
Phillips Herbert Haig Road, Hightown, Wrexham 30 Collier
Phillips John Gardd Estyn, Garden Village, Wrexham 40 Collier
Pickering J. Sycamore Terrace, Old Rhosrobin 22 Collier
Powell Charles Dale Street, Wrexham 57 Railman
Price Ernest Moss Hill, Moss 27 Collier
Price Samuel Oakfield Terrace, Gresford 37 Collier
Pridding James Oxford Street, Wrexham 32 Collier
Prince Mark Manley Road, Wrexham 59 Collier
Prince William Meadow Lea, Spring Lodge, Wrexham 30 Collier
Pritchard Isiah Woodland View, New Rhosrobin 54 Collier
Pugh Ernest Quarry Rd, Brynteg 49 Collier
Pugh Thomas Vernon Street, Wrexham 54 Collier
Ralphs John Market Street, Wrexham 53 Collier
Rance Thomas High Street, Pentre Broughton 21 Collier
Rees Albert Gatewen Road, New Broughton 56 Collier
Reid Lloyd Bryn Gardden, Rhosllannerchrugog 20 Collier
Roberts Arthur A. Wire Mill Cottage, Bradley 63 Collier
Roberts Edward Bryn Estyn Cottage, Rhosnesni 35 Collier
Roberts Edward C. Council Houses, Gresford 42 Collier
Roberts Ernest Little Penybryn, Abenbury 26 Collier
Roberts Frank Bury Street, Wrexham 26 Collier
Roberts George Glanrafon, Maesydre, Wrexham 28 Repairer
Roberts H. Patison Road, Coedpoeth Collier
Roberts Idris Pumphouse, Highfield, Stansty 16 Collier
Roberts John David Lorne Street, Rhosddu 47 Collier
Roberts John H. Patison Row, Coedpoeth 33 Collier
Roberts Olwyn Hill Street, Penycae 24 Collier
Roberts Percy Bungalow, Llidiart Fanny, Coedpoeth 26 Collier
Roberts Robert off Brook Street, Rhosllannerchrugog 33 Collier
Roberts Robert John Market Street, Wrexham Collier
Roberts Robert Thomas Crispin Lane, Wrexham 57 Collier
Roberts Robert William Forge Row, Southsea 38 Collier
Roberts Thomas James Kendrick Place, Beast Market, Wrexham 19 Collier
Roberts William Princes Street, Wrexham 45 Collier
Roberts William T. Pentre Lane, Llay 40 Collier
Robertson William Spring Road, Rhosddu 41 Collier
Rogers Edward Llewellyn New Houses Lane, Llay 20 Collier
Rogers Grenville Wheatsheaf Lane, Gwersyllt 29 Collier
Ross Harry Nelson Street, Wrexham 34 Collier
Rowlands John Holt Road, Wrexham 36 Collier
Rowland John David Old Cross Foxes, Minera 17 Collier
Salisbury William Victoria Road, Brynteg 48 Collier
Shaw George Ashwood, Wrexham Road, Brynteg 63 Collier
Shone John Gresford 34 Collier
Shone Richard High Street, Gresford 49 Collier
Slawson Arthur Crescent Road, Wrexham 22 Collier
Smith Leonard Bennions Road, Huntroyde, Wrexham 20 Collier
Stevens Richard T. Pisgah Hill, Pentre Broughton 22 Collier
Strange Albert Nelson Street, Wrexham 25 Collier
Statford Stanley Ninth Avenue, Llay 39 Collier
Tarran John Liverpool Road, Buckley 59 Collier
Taylor William Henry Church Street, Holt 53 Collier
Thomas Berwyn Kent Road, Lodge, Brymbo 26 Collier
Thomas John Elias Queen's Terrace, Gwersyllt 29 Collier
Thomas Robert Pant Hill, Rhosllannerchrugog 32 Collier
Thomas Tec Council Houses, Pandy 26 Collier
Thornton John Coronation Cottages, New Broughton 24 Collier
Tittle Edward Smithy Lane, Acton 44 Collier
Trowe Ernest Huntroyde Avenue, Wrexham 41 Collier
Valentine Fred Glan Dwr, Acrefair 24 Collier
Vaughan John Edward Alford Street, Wrexham 28 Collier
White John Chapel Cottages, Gresford 38 Collier
Williams George Gardden Terrace, Summerhill 31 Collier
Williams Harold Osborne Terrace, Claypit Lane, Gresford 37 Collier
Williams Hugh Llewellyn Park Street, Rhosddu 43 Collier
Williams John Cheetham's Lodging Houses, Wrexham 62 Collier
Williams John Dale Street, Wrexham 44 Collier
Williams John Council Houses, Brynteg 66 Collier
Williams John D. Vulcan Cottage, New Road, Southsea 29 Collier
Williams John Thomas Brynffynnon, Brymbo 33 Collier
Williams Morris Pentre Lane, Llay 24 Electrician
Williams Reg Old Rhosrobin 29 Electrician
Williams Thomas Park View Stores, Bradley 57 Collier
Williams William A. Gatewen Road, Pentre Broughton 29 Collier
Wilson John Walter Victoria Terrace, Coedpoeth 32 Collier
Witter Henry The Mount, Gresford 56 Collier
Wynn Edward Bradley Road, Wrexham 68 Collier
Winyard J. New Inn, Cefnybedd 47 Collier
Yemm Morgan James Seventh Avenue, Llay 28 Collier

 

The Gresford Disaster
(Lyrics: Anonymous)

You've heard of the Gresford Disaster,
Of the terrible price that was paid;
Two hundred and sixty-four colliers were lost,
And three men of the rescue brigade.

It occurred in the month of September
At three in the morning the pit
Was racked by a violent explosion
In the Dennis where gas lay so thick.

Now the gas in the Dennis deep section
Was packed there like snow in a drift,
And many a man had to leave the coal-face
Before he had worked out his shift.

Now a fortnight before the explosion,
To the shotfirer Tomlinson cried,
"If you fire that shot we'll be all blown to hell!"
And no one can say that he lied.

Now the fireman's reports they are missing
The records of forty-two days;
The collier manager had them destroyed
To cover his criminal ways.

Down there in the dark they are lying.
They died for nine shillings a day;
They have worked out their shift and now they must lie
In the darkness until Judgement Day.

Now the Lord Mayor of London's collecting
To help out the children and wives;
The owners have sent some white lilies
To pay for the poor colliers' lives.

Farewell, all our dear wives and our children
Farewell, all our comrades as well,
Don't send your sons down the dark dreary mine
They'll be doomed like the sinners in hell.

The song was issued as a broadsheet soon after the disaster. It has been recorded by The Hennessys, Ewan MacColl, Alex Campbell and the Albion Country Band amongst others. The disaster is also the subject of the song The Collier on the 2006 album Freedom Fields by Seth Lakeman.

Sources: External Links:

This page was last revised 23rd June 2012
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