Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Gresford Colliery Disaster - 22 September 1934


Today is the 88th anniversary of the Gresford Disaster which killed 266 Men (and boys). I was brought up in another former coal mining town about 10 miles away and remember learning as a child, the poem below. 

It is telling that I can still remember most of the words of this poem from decades ago (but I still cannot remember my mobile phone number). 

Such a huge death toil from a single industrial "accident" (see the very good account) is simply unbelievable nowadays but this was not the worse loss of life in a coal mine. 

My father was a City and Guilds trained electrician and he told me that he was once tempted to give up his job in a local aircraft factory to go down the Pit because the money was slightly better. He went on a visit down a local mine and came back swearing he would never, ever work in a coal mine. 

You've heard of the Gresford disaster,
The terrible price that was paid,
Two hundred and forty-two colliers were lost
And three men of a rescue brigade.

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

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.

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

The fireman's reports they are missing,
The records of forty-two days;
The colliery 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.

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

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

No comments: