Tynewydd 1877

A disaster in a Welsh valley was to result in four first and twenty-one second class 'Albert' medals.  

On 11 April 1877 the pressure of water collecting in the old workings of the Cymmer Colliery forced its way into the Tynewydd Colliery in the Rhondda Valley. Glamorgan drowning four men, killing one by compressed air and trapping the other nine working in the pit at the time. 

Four of the trapped men were rescued after eighteen hours of effort but the other five were to remain entombed for many more days. their release being the result of skill, bravery, endurance and comradeship of their fellow-workers in the area, owners, managers, colliers and firemen alike. 

To reach the entombed men it was necessary to drive through a thirty-eight yards thick barrier of coal which was holding back a large quantity of water and compressed air, probably gas. Work started on Monday. 16 April and George ABLETT, Charles BAYNHAM, Richard HOPKINS, Richard HOWELLS, Charles OATRIDGE. John WILLIAMS. Robert WILLIAMS, Edward DAVID, William MORGAN, David REES and Rees THOMAS worked at this task for the next four days until it was successfully completed. The other men, David DAVIES, Thomas JONES, Edmund THOMAS. Thomas G. DAVIES, David EVANS, David JONES, Henry LEWIS, Isaiah THOMAS, Thomas THOMAS and William THOMAS, worked on the rescues at different times from 12 April to the end. The task was carried out without any great danger, relatively speaking, until 1.00 p.m. on 19 April when, with only a few yards of the barrier remaining, the menace of an irruption was so great as to make the men falter. Daniel THOMAS, Isaac PRIDE, John William HOWELL and William BEITH. who had worked and led right from the start, volunteered to resume operations, the danger of which had been greatly increased by an outburst of inflammable gas under great pressure and in such quantities that it extinguished the Davy lamps. This danger continued until 3.30 a.m. on 20 April but, at great personal peril, they continued working until 3.00 p.m. that day when the imprisoned men were safely released. 

The original London Gazette included the name of James THOMAS, a colliery owner and manager, but this was cancelled by London Gazette Supplement dated 10 August 1877, his name having been included in error.

Extract from 'Heroic Endeavour' by D.V. Henderson (See bibliography page for details)