Archbishop blesses memorial to victims of mining accidents

Archbishop Barry Morgan blesses the memorial

The Archbishop of Wales has dedicated a new national memorial to people killed in mining accidents in Wales.

Dr Barry Morgan unveiled the memorial at Senghenydd, Caerphilly county on Monday, a hundred years to the day since an explosion that killed 439 miners and a rescuer at the Universal Colliery.

The tragedy on 14 October 1913 was the worst mining disaster in the UK and came just a few years after a previously deadly explosion at the colliery in 1901, which killed 81 men.

The service of dedication was led by the Reverend Susan Rees, priest-in charge of Eglwysilan, and attended by hundreds of people.

In her address, she reflected on the strong bond between miners.

Archbishop Barry Morgan at the Gwaun-Cae-Gurven memorial slab

"The example set by miners loving one another, is an example we would all do well to emanate," she said.

"We are here to remember, with love, those who have gone before us, they are now perfected in love. Let us all in tribute today try to walk that road ourselves and to grow in love for one another."

The memorial is situated in the garden of remembrance, created in memory of the victims as well as those killed at 150 other mining tragedies in Wales.

A new walled garden opened on Monday features tiles inscribed with the names of the men and boys who died at Senghenydd.

A minute's silence was held before the Archbishop gave the final blessing and walked the new "path of memory" recalling other Welsh mining accidents. He paused at the stone marking an accident at Gwaun Cae Gurwen colliery in his home town, where six people died on 1 September 1847.

The Archbishop said, "We hear that religion no longer matters to people yet those here today wanted a service of prayer and wanted to remember before God those who had died.

"These mining towns and villages have a deep sense of community running through them that is still alive and their faith is very much a part of that. Sometimes we only find the depths of our faith when tragedy hits us."