266 lives lost for coal, Wrexham to remember disaster 88 years on
A ceremony in remembrance of Wrexham’s greatest tragedy, the Gresford Colliery disaster, is taking place tomorrow, September 22.
The disaster affected the whole of Wrexham with almost every village in the county borough losing someone.
On September 21, 1934, miners descended into the Dennis section of the Gresford Colliery to begin their shift, many of them ‘doubling up’ so they’d be free to watch the Wrexham match on Saturday afternoon.
Only six of them returned.
Just after 2am on Saturday morning, September 22, an explosion tore through the colliery, killing countless miners in the process.
Edward Williams, engine attendant at the Dennis recalled: “It came nearer like thunder and then the place was all black. You couldn’t see anything.”
More than 200 rescue workers were sent down in an effort to rescue the miners.
All they recovered were 11 bodies – three of them belonging to the first rescue team.
One of the rescuers described the mine as being “just like hell”.
Once news reached the town, crowds began to gather around the mine – women and children waiting for loved ones who would never return.
After 40 hours of toiling it became clear to the rescuers there was nobody alive left to save; the shafts were closed at 6pm on the Sunday.
The Gresford Colliery disaster was one of Wrexham’s greatest tragedies. The explosion left 200 widowed, 800 fatherless and 1,600 jobless.
The tragedy became national headline news and even received recognition from the King.
Word travelled about the struggling families and a relief fund was established to aid those in need, with more than £550,000 raised in total.
“The Gresford disaster affected the whole of Wrexham, with almost every village in the county borough losing someone,” said Wrexham Mayor Cllr Brian Cameron.
“It’s an incredibly sad part of our history in Wrexham, and one that we will never forget.”
This year marks 88 years since the 266 men and boys lost their lives.
The annual memorial ceremony takes place at Miner’s Wheel Memorial, Bluebell Lane, Pandy at 11am.
It is a short informal service, which everyone is welcome to attend.
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Hundreds of families in the town were affected by this disaster in terms of loss of loved ones, in many instances the breadwinner. It’s the North-East Wales equivalent of Senghenydd.