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Huw Edwards criticises Jeremy Paxman for ‘lecturing’ Welsh about mining disasters

22 Oct 2021 2 minutes Read
Jeremy Paxman on Heno. Right, Huw Edwards picture by Brian Minkoff-London Pixels (CC BY-SA 3.0).

BBC broadcaster Huw Edwards has criticised Jeremy Paxman for “lecturing” the people of Wales on the subject of their own mining disasters.

In comments made on S4C programme Heno, Jeremy Paxman said that Welsh mining disasters were “forgotten” and that people should have “more respect”.

In his new book Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain, Paxman writes of Aberfan, “soon the dead children will be forgotten”.

“Well, people will forget Aberfan, I’m afraid,” he told Heno. “In the way that they forgot previous Welsh mining disasters. There was one for example in 1934 at Gresford that is almost completely forgotten now.

“People go to a garden centre now which is on top of where men died entombed beneath them. The bodies are still down there.

“I just think we ought to have more respect for these people.”

266 men died at Gresford Colliery, near Wrexham on 22 September 1934. Controversially, the company decided to seal the colliery rather than recover the bodies.

Huw Edwards however responded by linking to the story on social media and saying the intervention amounted to “lecturing”

“Where Paxo discovers Welsh mining disasters and lectures Wales on ‘respect’. Yeah.”

In 2016 Huw Edwards presented a BBC documentary entitled Aberfan: The Fight for Justice that looked at the testimony given during the 76-day long tribunal of inquiry.

Jeremy Paxman also added of Aberfan: “There’s nothing worse than being a parent and seeing your child go before you. I cried when I was there.”

However, he also controversially suggests in his new book that Aberfan was also partly the fault of the people who worked at the mine.

“How many knew of the potential dangers, and kept silent because without the tip there would be no mine, and without the mine, the village would be likely to die,” he wrote.

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j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago

I thought Paxman was very decent about it. He cried at the thought of Aberfan’s children and mourned buried miners in Gresford. God knows no one is perfect, especially me.

John Brooks
John Brooks
1 month ago
Reply to  j humphrys

Agree. Think Huw has gone OTT. We need to remember how these disasters in Wales and Scotland and England were the result of the neglect of bosses and government, who cared little about working people Nd and their families.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago
Reply to  John Brooks

Huw was right to pick Paxman up on the latter’s assumption that these man-made disasters are being forgotten, though, and that “people should have more respect”. If he’s speaking as an outsider, then he’s right, but the victims will never be forgotten in Wales itself. Nearly every working-class family in Wrexham lost a close or not-so-close relative at Gresford. You don’t forget.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Oh we don’t forget them, and also those who died slowly, coughing their way. I can still hear them.
They kept canaries, grew big colourful flowers………..

Last edited 1 month ago by j humphrys
John Brooks
John Brooks
1 month ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Trouble is many of the disasters are not widely remembered outside of the former mining communities. Aberfan is probably the exception particularly for those who actually remember it, fewer of us every year! I don’t think Paxman was addressing Welsh people but people across the UK.

Aberfan didn’t get a mention on BBC Cymru news. This is how things get lost in time. Mining communities all over the world have always been badly treated and casualties seen as ‘unfortunate’ by the owners, state or private.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 month ago

I remember Bristol soccer fans used to wind up opposition Welsh fans by chanting Aberfan.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find this https://gaschat.co.uk/thread/17151/aberfan

Last edited 1 month ago by Huw Davies
L Roberts
L Roberts
1 month ago

Even intelligent English people, or maybe intelligent English people especially, seem ignorant or deaf to Welsh people’s narratives. They seem not to hear what goes on in Wales, although what goes on in Wales is completely open and ‘out there’. Their attitude towards the Welsh language is the same. They get told the facts, that so and so many hundreds of thousands of people in these parts speak Welsh as a first language, they ‘know’ the facts, yet they do not really digest them, feel them, understand them in any meaningful way. They – intelligent English people – always believe… Read more »

Pob lwc
Pob lwc
1 month ago
Reply to  L Roberts

You’ve taken one man (Paxman), invented views that he may or may not have, then applied that to all “intelligent English people”. What a load of nonsense.

Ant Heald
Ant Heald
1 month ago
Reply to  Pob lwc

As an Englishman now living in Wales, I’d say L Roberts has it spot on, actually, as a reasonable generalisation. The only caveat I would add is that the attitude to the Welsh language described is also held by many Welsh folk.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  L Roberts

Not confined to the English. I’ve mentioned before how even two well known and intelligent Scots, on a BBC quiz, seriously underestimated the number of Welsh speakers in Wales. The highest estimate was only about 120k. Outside of Wales, little is known about us. We’re probably similar to the description of planet Earth in the Hitch Hikers Guide TTG. ‘Harmless’ or ‘Mostly harmless’!

David Thomas
David Thomas
1 month ago

What’s Huw Edwards problem here, Paxman makes a good point about how quickly we forget these disasters, and how wrong it is that we do. It was Aberfans anniversary this week if I hadn’t heard it on the news I wouldn’t have known. Trouble is there are so many of these ‘ accidents down the years’

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago
Reply to  David Thomas

Paxman is “thinking British” and lumping Wales with England, I should imagine. It was well-meant, but he should be aware that it still hits a nerve for Welsh people whenever Aberfan is mentioned. That said, we don’t think about Aberfan every day, not least because some people weren’t alive at the time. It’s enough that we are occasionally reminded while we get on with our lives, for instance, on 21st October.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

All this chat comes down to the poor way history is taught in the schools of Wales.

Not just our own national history but the histories of the other nations within these islands.

Whether in the coal mines of Scotland , the Slate excavation of Wales or the Lead & Tin mines of Cornwall or the Quarries of England and Ireland therse disasters reflected on uncaring and often absent landkords….with strong westminster connections.

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