Friday, 2 August 2013

The price of coal was cheap in 1913

I mentioned the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster of 1913 in a post a while back (here) Just to remind you about the detail: there was an explosion at the pit which took the lives of 439 miners (boys and men) plus 1 rescue worker. The mine manager and the owners (who had previous form - 81 men had also died there in 1901, just 12 years earlier) were prosecuted and fined a paltry £24. This caused national outrage and newspapers of the time wrote that the life of a miner was worth just one shilling and a penny farthing.

Why bring it up again? Because Nicola Rees has just posted a beautifully put together video about it on the Caerphilly Family History page (here) and below.  A fitting tribute and one I find extremely moving. It's well worth putting aside 8 minutes to follow it through to the end. And the music? It's by Laurence Equilbey and is called Agnus Dei, Adagio Op. 11.



For ever the politico, I can see some present day parallels in this tragedy. But not in the UK, thank goodness, although I don't think we should be too complacent. I'm thinking about the factory fire in Bangladesh earlier on this year in which 1129 people were killed. A combination of wanting production costs as low as possible, appalling worker safety standards and practically no government regulation. The incident came as a stark reminder of the human cost behind the plentiful supply of affordable goods on our high streets. Echoing, if you will, the human cost behind the production of coal in pre-nationalisation days (a theme I touched on in this post). 

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