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Morfa Colliery, Port Talbot, Glamorganshire. 10th March 1890

Information From Ian Winstanley - Ignition Of Methane - 87 Killed - 43 Unrecovered

Those who died and were recovered were:-

  • Bethuel Heycock aged 19 years, haulier.
  • William Henry Claturthy aged 18 years, pumper.
  • Joseph Weeks aged 26 years, hitcher.
  • Evan Morgan aged 20 years, signalman.
  • William Curnick aged 50 years, plugman.
  • Thomas David aged 47 years, repairer.
  • William Scott aged 29 years, collier.
  • John Morris aged 46 years, overman.
  • Thomas Mainwaring aged 45 years, repairer.
  • Simeon Lewis, collier.
  • William Francis aged 28 years, collier.
  • James Tippott aged 17 years, haulier.
  • John Henry Nicholls jnr. aged 29 years, collier.
  • Joseph Thomas aged 50 years, collier.
  • Daniel John aged 57 years, collier.
  • Thomas Henry Williams aged 31 years, collier.
  • Frederick Jenkins aged 16 years, greaser.
  • William Jones aged 18 years, hitcher.
  • Thomas Oates jnr. aged 20 years, collier.
  • David Hopkins aged 48 years, haulier.
  • Thomas Davies aged 19 years, hitcher.
  • David Rees aged 40 years, ostler.
  • David Williams aged 19 years, hitcher.
  • Thomas Kemp aged 19 years, haulier.
  • William Lewis aged 34 years, collier.
  • Samuel Griffiths aged 50 years, collier.
  • Edward Ellis aged 51 years, collier.
  • David Wyld aged 40 years, roadman.
  • Daniel Buckley aged 29 years, pumper.
  • John Buckley aged 35 years, pumper.
  • Isaac Walters aged 23 years, fan driver.
  • Joseph Williams aged 32 years, repairer.
  • William Taylor jnr. aged 15 years, haulier.
  • John Leyshon aged 35 years, repairer.
  • Evan Eley aged 37 years, collier.
  • John Morris aged 46 years, collier.
  • Patrick Kennedy aged 46 years, pumper.
  • Richard Lucas aged 36 years, hauler.
  • Daniel Brownsell aged 36 years, explorer.

The bodies that were not recovered were:-

  • John Nichols, airway man.
  • Thomas Daniel, airway man.
  • Evan Thomas, collier.
  • Thomas Thomas, collier.
  • David Davies, repairer.
  • Evan Hedley, repairer.
  • Thomas Yorwerth, haulier.
  • Thomas Leyshon, collier.
  • Daniel Griffiths, collier.
  • W. Vanstone, collier.
  • John Pippin, collier.
  • David King, collier.
  • William James jnr., collier.
  • Noah Mandry or Mainwairing, collier.
  • Alfred Phillips, collier.
  • Henry Williams, repairer.
  • Thomas Hopkins, collier.
  • David Matthew, collier.
  • William Jones, collier.
  • Griffith Bevan, collier.
  • Isaac Williams, collier.
  • Edward Floyd, collier.
  • Joseph Jones, collier.
  • Thomas Lewis, collier.
  • John Lewis, collier.
  • William Lewis, collier.
  • John Ready, repairer.
  • Henry Parker, labourer.
  • Samuel Howells, collier.
  • John Jones, collier.
  • Evan Morgan, collier.
  • William James, collier.
  • John Griffiths, collier.
  • James David, collier.
  • John Hopton, haulier.
  • David Williams, collier.
  • Meredith Davies, collier.
  • Ebenezer Davies, collier.
  • David Richards, collier.
  • Benjamin Lewis, collier.
  • William Barras, manager.
  • William Leyshon, collier.

In his Report for 1890 Mr. Robson reported that there had been an explosion with the loss of 87 lives and stated that:-
“No new light had been thrown on the explosion and the reopening of the colliery had proceeded without intermission but the difficulties had been so great at the extreme points of the workings, where the remaining bodies were supposed to be, that they had not yet been reached and there were still 40 bodies that had not been recovered.”

The inquest and inquiry into the disaster was held at Aberavon before Mr. Howell Cuthbertson, Coroner for Neath in April when all interested parties were represented. Of the colliery officials, the undermanager, William Barras and John Morris, the overman of the Cribbwr Seam were lost in the explosion. David Aubery, the day fireman had obtained leave of absence to attend a funeral and had left his place at 10 a.m. and so escaped but William Leyshon, the man appointed in his place was lost.

There was no positive evidence that a shot had been fired but Mr. Robson thought that there was little doubt that one had. He said:-
“My reasons for arriving at this conclusion are:-

  • It was a fact that shots were fired almost daily in three or four places and the ordinary time for firing was coincident with the time of the explosion.
  • On that morning, Aubery, the day fireman, had been asked by John Griffiths, one of the colliers in his place, when he (Aubery) would be coming in and on Aubery replying that he was not coming in, Griffiths said, “Tell John Morris (the overman) that I want someone to come in.” Aubery understood this to mean that Griffiths expected to have a shot ready to fire during the shift.
  • Aubery gave William Leyshon, the man appointed in his place, his safety lamp, and the key for opening it in case he had to fire a shot.
  • Leyshon was not seen in No.7 that day by any survivor and as his body has not been found it is probably in No.8 or 8 ½ west, where he had been at the time of the explosion.
  • The colliery had been for many years worked with safety lamps and that discipline as to their use was such that I do not think any of the workmen would surreptitiously use a naked light, or smoke in the workings.
  • A safety lamp damaged and left burning, a lamp in an unsafe condition being passed by an examiner on the surface and by the fireman or other examiner at the lamp station underground, the passage of the flame through the gauze of a safety lamp by an abnormal velocity of current, and a spar striking some flinty stone, are each possible means of igniting an inflammable mixture of gas and air but the probability of such a contingency where gas happened to be present is too remote to be entertained as the cause of this explosion.”

The following verdict was given by the jury

  • The cause of death was afterdamp and burns caused by the explosion.
  • There is a strong probability, from the evidence, that the explosion took place at the face of No. 8 ½ range.
  • We are of the opinion that the explosion was due to shot firing. We are also of the opinion that shot firing was carried on in accordance with the rules laid down by the Mines Regulation Act.
  • We are of the opinion that the explosion was due to accidental causes. The jury recommend that the firemen should report the presence of gas on all occasions, wherever found.

Mr. Robson commenting on the recommendation of the jury said:-
“I fully concur with the recommendation. It seems to have been thought that when gas had been found and reported in the book, kept for the purpose, it was unnecessary to report the same gas on subsequent days in cases where the working had been discontinued, and the place itself fenced off.”