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Rhonda Miners saved despite perilous conditions

Year 1877

Read by Peter Dawson – Trustee, Royal Humane Society

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Thomas, Daniel, Colliery Proprietor.
Beith, William, Mining Engineer.
Pride, Isaac, Collier.
Howell, John William, Collier.

On the 11th April, 1877, the Tymwydd Colliery, situated near Porth in the Rhonda Valley, South Wales, was inundated with water from the old workings of the adjoining Cymmer Colliery. At the time of the inundation there were fourteen men in the pit, of whom four were unfortunately drowned, and one killed by compressed air, leaving nine men imprisoned by the water. Of this number four were released after eighteen hours imprisonment. It was in effecting the release of these latter five that those distinguished services were rendered by Thomas, Beith, Pride and Howell, which the conferring of the Society’s Silver Medals is intended to recognise, and for which the Albert Medals of the first-class were awarded by Her Majesty the Queen.

The rescuing operations consisted of driving through the barrier of coal, thirty-eight yards in length, which intervened between the imprisoned miners and the rescuers, and kept back a quantity of water and compressed air. This task was commenced on Monday, April the 16th, and was carried on until Thursday, April the 19th, without any great amount of danger being incurred by the rescuers; but about one o’clock p.m., on that day, when only a few yards of the barrier remained, the danger from an irruption of water, gas and compressed air was so great as to cause the colliers to falter. It was at this juncture that the above four men volunteered to resume the rescue operations, the danger of which had been greatly increased by an outburst of inflammable gas under great pressure, and in such quantities as to extinguish the Davy lamps which were being used. The danger from the gas continued at intervals until half past three on the following morning; and from that time the above four men, at great peril to their own lives, continued the rescuing operations until three o’clock p.m., when the five imprisoned men were safely released.

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