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Welsh National Mining Memorial, Senghenydd

(September 25, 2013)

Welsh National Mining Memorial, Senghenydd

The Welsh National Mining Memorial will be unveiled in Senghenydd on the 14th October 2013. The date will also mark the 100th anniversary of Wales' largest mining disaster. On 14th October 1913, 440 men and boys lost their lives in a devastating explosion at the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd. The memorial will be unveiled at a new, landscaped Memorial Garden by Roy Noble, broadcaster and patron of the Aber Valley Heritage Group, and its Chairman, Jack Humphreys, following a dedication service, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Aber Valley Heritage Group logo

The centerpiece statue is a two-figure, life-size bronze standing on a plinth, made from local pennant sandstone, which will be situated within a newly created memorial garden.

The statue, depicting a miner's rescue, was chosen following a community vote. Designed by sculptor Les Johnson, Miner's Rescue is evocative of the Universal Colliery disaster at Senghenydd, and also of the hundreds of other mining disasters to have occurred throughout Wales. The statue represents the rescue operation immediately after the disaster and depicts a rescue worker coming to the aid of a survivor, signifying emotion and brotherhood. Miner's Rescue is a symbolic piece, to which the whole of Wales will be able to relate.

Miner's Rescue, by Les JohnsonMiner's Rescue, by Les Johnson
Bronze, on a pennant sandstone plinth

The statue alone cost £120,000 and was funded from contributions from Caerphilly County Borough Council, the Aber Valley Heritage Group, Aber Valley Community Council and the Welsh Government. As part of the memorial garden, a national memorial pathway will feature paviors dedicated to mining disasters across Wales, where five or more were killed. The pathway will feature 152 tiles, each costing £500.

The memorial has received support from some of the biggest names in the Welsh entertainment industry. In March 2013, A Miner's Song, written by Daniel and Laura Curtis, was released, featuring over 300 performers, including: Michael Sheen; Ioan Gruffudd; Joe Calzaghe; Wynne Evans; Rebecca Evans; Paul Potts; Aled Jones; and Matthew Rhys ... to name just a few. The charity single, in aid of the Welsh National Mining Memorial, is available from the National Mining Memorial website (since sold out - Ed).

Daniel and Laura Curtis, with Michael SheenDaniel and Laura Curtis, with Michael Sheen, one of the memorial's supporters

In addition, Manic Street Preachers' front man, James Dean Bradfield, is creating a soundtrack for a song with writer Patrick Jones, which will conclude in a performance on the streets of Senghenydd called Each for all, All for Each, by the Striking Attitudes Dance Company.

Daniel Curtis said, "It is a real privilege to be part of the Aber Valley Heritage Group and I am very proud to have been involved in honouring the miners of Wales with this lasting and very fitting memorial. The support that has been shown has been incredible."

WNMM Big Pit Piano Concert
Daniel and Laura Curtis performing at the Big Pit Piano Concert, September 2012

Attending the service

A dedication service will be held at 11:30 a.m. on the 14 October 2013 in a new Memorial Garden next to Nant Y Parc School (Commercial St, Senghenydd, Caerphilly CF83 4GY). The memorial statue will be unveiled after the service. For fire-certificate, legal, insurance, health'n safety and/or space reasons, admittance into the memorial garden will be by invitation only. Invited guests include representatives of each colliery noted on the memorial, various religious heads, the usual government dignitaries and the organisers themselves. If you haven't received an invitation already you will not be admitted.

Members of the public will have access to designated viewing areas. However, their capacity is limited. The number of people who will decide to attend on the day is unknown, so it is possible that people may turn up after the viewing areas have already reached capacity. Specific areas, including designated car parking, have been allocated for the disabled.

Senghenydd is a small town at the end of the Aber valley. The valley's entire population is fewer than 7,000. It has only one road in and out, which will be closed to traffic from 10:30 a.m. Consequently, huge delays are expected. The main car park is beyond the site. Anyone arriving after the road closures would need to park near the Windsor Colliery site or in another safe area, but may have a 20 minute walk to get to the memorial site. The roads will remain closed until at least 2:00 p.m.


Fundraising continues. If you would like to help, please contact the Aber Valley Heritage Group: by phone on 02920 830444/5; or email

Further information is on the Aber Valley Heritage Group's website

More on the National Mining Memorial and on Daniel and Laura Curtis:
     National Coal Mining Memorial, Senghenydd, March 2013
     Great American Songbook, March 2012


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