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Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 15:17 UK
Gresford Disaster: Families' accounts

The Gresford Disaster cost 266 men their lives on September 22 1934. Here, contributors recall how their families' lives would never be the same after the day's tragic events.

Lilian Murphy:

Gresford colliery
A crowd waits at the colliery following the disaster

My father, Stephen Penny and his brother William both lost their lives during the disaster, both left young families. My brother, who is also called Stephen, and myself were left without a father and soon afterwards our mother died leaving us orphans. I have just printed out 'The real price of coal' by Jonathon Gammond (Wrexham Museum), and feel very sad that all those men died and children were left without the love and protection of their fathers.

Alex from Wrexham:

My granddad lies down in the pit still as he has never been recovered. He wasn't meant to be down the pits at the time but he had taken on someone else's shift as his friend was going to the football match. My granddad happily accepted to do his shift as he was never into football. My grandma still remembers being told about her husband's death.

Samantha Lloyd nee White:

My grandfather, John White, was killed in this disaster. He had swapped shifts with somebody as there was a big football match on that day, and not being a great footy fan he worked for somebody who wanted to see the match. He left behind my gran who brought up five children on her own, including a 11 month old little boy, which was my dad. Pictures of her and my dad were on every national newspaper. She went on to live to the grand old age of 100, and she died exactly 63 years to the day her husband was killed, 22 Sep 1997.

Alun Griffiths of Wrexham:

My uncle Benny (Griffiths) changed shifts on that dreadful day as he was getting married the next day, he lived with the guilt all his life. My wife's grandfather also died, he was 60 years of age and was doing an extra shift so that he could take his daughter to the seaside. His son was involved in the distribution of food which was sent from all over the world in response to the disaster and I recall him telling me of the 'yellow meat' from Australia.

Jacqueline Wynn-Jones, Chirk:

My dad's two cousins and their father were down the pit when the fire began. The eldest boy was brought out from the mine, when he was told his younger brother had not been found he ran back in. They were never seen again. Their father stood all day and night waiting, but the boys were never brought back to the surface. Eventually the entrance was sealed.

John Parrott from Perth:

The 22 September 1934 was my sixth birthday. At that time I was living with my parents and newly born sister at Ffordd Estyn, Garden Village. I still remember well the gloom cast over the day when my father returned from work with the news of the Gresford disaster. We knew many of the families concerned and the pit manager, Fred Bonsall, and his wife, were family friends. On the Sunday my father took me to the colliery and we stood amongst the silent crowds anxiously waiting near the Martin Shaft. At some point I seem to recall there was a pit head service with Llay Main Colliery Band. The memory of that sombre weekend and the days that followed have never left me.

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