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 Disaster at Aberfan
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Dove of peace This page is dedicated to both the children and adults who lost their lives needlessly [ in my opinion ] at
Aberfan in South Glamorgan

on the fatal day of
October
21st 1966
Dove of peace

On October 21st 1966 1000's of tons of colliery waste from Merthyr Vale Colliery slid down a mountain side from high above the village of Aberfan in the Taf river valley in south Wales.

Early that morning cloud had once again formed over the Taf river valley and it had begun to rain. At 7.30 am the village of Aberfan was awakening. Miners were on the way to work and children were rubbing their eyes and thinking of getting up for school: all the time high above them on the mountain side the killer tip was getting ready to move.

In the school hall at 9.30 am that morning, the children had sung
All Things Bright and Beautiful, and were returning to their classrooms when the gigantic wave of black sludge of colliery waste, having roared down the mountainside, struck at their school and 21 houses before coming to rest....

In its wake it had destroyed a little farm cottage, killing all its occupants in the process; smothered to death 116 children and five teachers; half the school.

In the immediate silence that followed
You couldn't hear a bird sing never mind the cry of a child
The Tip: Before the slide Aberfan: The slide Into the school classroom Clearing the classroom
The killer tip high above the village The colliery waste spread out after in its path of death and destruction Having reached it the grim task of finding the children begins Men struggle with bare hands to gain entrance to the classroom
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The tragedy that occurred that morning could have and damn well should have been avoided at all costs. Now a four line highway carries the A470 trunk road right through where the tip once stood. A comforting thought to the villagers, don't you think?

As Men, Machines and help poured into the village from all across the United Kingdom, the Chairman of the National Coal Board (NCB) Lord Robens of Woldingham, PC, having been told what happened, did not go immediately to the disaster, he choose instead to proceed with his installation as Chancellor of the University of Surrey. NCB officials, when questioned by the Secretary of State for Wales as to the whereabouts of Robens, said that Lord Robens was personally directing the relief work. ( Now I wonder what would you call them?).

When Robens eventually condescended to honour Aberfan with his presence he concluded, on inspecting the slide, that the sole cause of its movement was due to “natural unknown springs” beneath the tip. A complete and utter fabrication, for people who were grandparents at the time could remember playing in the stream upon which Merthyr Vale Colliery Tip had been built when they were children.

The Labour government, under the Premiership of the Rt. Hon Harold Wilson MP, immediately appointed a Tribunal of Inquiry. It immediately set to work and quickly came to understand the deep feeling of hatred for the N.C.B. and the members of the board. Nevertheless, it was unsparing in its condemnation and I have picked out just a few of its conclusions:-

1/. That the blame for the disaster lay firmly upon the N.C.B

2/. That it (The Tribunal) was appalled by the behaviour of the National Coal Board and some of its employees, before and after the disaster

3/. That the disaster was a terrifying tale of bungling ineptitude by many men charged with tasks for which they were totally unfitted.

4/. That many men failed to heed clear warnings and that they suffered from a total lack of  direction from above.

5/. That colliery engineers concentrated solely on conditions underground and described them as "moles being asked about the habits of birds”.

6/. That coal board witnesses gave the impression that “the board (coal) had no more  blameworthy connection to the disaster than say, the Gas Board.

On and on the report goes dear surfer with more and more condemning words on every page. But what was its use? to do what ? In my opinion just to cause those poor souls who had lost loved ones in the village of Aberfan more pain.

No-one was prosecuted despite the damming report and only a paltry £500 was paid in compensation for each child, In concluding my few words on this terrible event I just hope that when the time comes/came for Robens and anyone else that had even the slightest responsibility for the disaster to approach the Pearly gates,
I hope St. Peter said/ or will say GO TO HELL, for they certainly earned that right.

Please visit the URL to HERE to read the documentary of the disaster collated by Ian McLean and Martin Johnes

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