|The colliery was the property of the Windsor Steam Coal Company (1901), Limited. It had two shafts, 19 feet in diameter which had been sunk to a depth of 644 yards and had been completely walled with the exception of 18 feet at the point where they intersected the Four Feet seam at a depth of 608 yards. It was intended to put arches in at this pint to form a landing and the unwalled portion of the shaft was secured by iron rings and wood backing deals.
The Memorial to the miners who died at the Windsor Colliery, Abertridwr
The walling had been completed up to the seam and side walls, on which to build the arches, and been constructed in the east and west headings. As they were building the walling, the men stood on a stage which was on a level with the floor of the seam. The stage was like two half moons and of a framework of pitch pine 9 inches by 7 inches, bound by iron brackets. It was covered with planking, 3 inches thick which strengthened further. In the centre of the stage there was a space, 6 feet square, through which water was occasionally wound from the bottom of the shaft. When not in use, this was covered by planks. The stage was supported by 12 wrought iron bolts two and a quarter inches square and three feet long which were fixed to the walling, except opposite the two headings, where they simply rested on the walling. The two halves were secured together by two iron bolts two and a quarter inches square. The rope that raised and lowered the two halves was left attached to the west half for convenience.
On the night of the 1st. June, operations were started to make room for the arches. Two pairs of timbers were knocked out, leaving two others standing, but shortly afterwards, they were crushed by the weight on them and the ground fell. The iron rings secured in the sides of the shaft also fell or were crushed out. The quantity of rubbish that fell was 80 tons and a portion of this and the iron rings fell on the stage.
At noon on the 3rd. June, there was very little rubbish remaining to be filled off the stage. an hour before the chargeman and two sinkers, who had been to the surface, decided in the ‘bowk’ and as they stepped onto the stage t gave way, one half falling into the water 21 feet below and carrying eight men with it. The chargeman saved himself by catching hold of a piece of timber. He shouted to left the bowk down and the only two men who could rescue themselves were brought up alive in it. One body was recovered that day and five the following day.
Those who lost their lives were:-
Griffth Wood aged 45 years
William Richards aged 34 years
William Davies aged 38 years
Sammuel Matthews aged 23 years
Thomas Davies aged 26 years
Edgar Brace aged 22 years, all sinkers
Mr. Gray arrived at the colliery on the 4th June and made a thorough inspection of the scene of the disaster. He found that the top of the walling of the shaft had been heaved up by over 8 inches. The east half of the stage was in the water and the other half found in it’s proper position and taken to the surface for repairs. The Inspector found that the timber was good and the accident could not be attributed to rot or lack of maintenance.
After his inspection he came to the conclusion that accident was caused by the weight of rubbish and shaft supports falling on the stage, aided by the ‘pucking’ of the walls which would buckle the stage up in the middle and tend to draw the supporting bolts out of the walling.
“If the shaft below the stage had been inspected on the days preceding the accident, this ‘pucking’ would have been detected, but an examination was impossible on account of the rubbish on the safe."
It was stated that the stage had been examined on 28th May and found to be in good condition.
The inquest was held before Mr. E.B. Reece, Coroner, on the 11th June and the jury returned the following verdict:-
“We find Edgar Brace and the other men lost their lives at Windsor Colliery by accidental drowning, caused by the collapse of the stage, this collapsing being caused principally and primarily through the upheaving of the masonry at the mouths of the headings and secondly by the weight of the accumulation of debris which fell on the stage.”