Their's were not the only widows and orphans left in Stanley Street;
John Thomas left a widow and five children, aged between 4 and 10. Many
of the bodies were mutilated and burnt beyond recognition; many families
were advised to bury their dead unseen. The South Wales Daily News
reported that 'included among the victims are some of the brightest
characters in the neighbourhood. Deacons, musicians, temperance workers
are found amongst them.' Under the Workmen's Compensation Act, a lump
sum of between £150 and £300 could be paid to the dependants
of those who died and the South Wales Miners' Appeal Fund paid out 10s
a week to the bereaved families.
The subsequent official enquiry blamed the disaster on coal-dust and
on the failure to keep it watered down, speculating that a blasting
shot prepared by Thomas and Joseph Fullalove had sparked the explosion
off. The enquiry painted a horrific picture of the speed at which the
mine workings were engulfed:
a considerable volume of flame having been formed, a sudden
expansion of the air took place, creating an airwave which swept through
the roadways in every direction, raising the coal dust and mixing it
with the air as it passed. The flame followed closely behind the airwave,
rapidly increasing the volume of heated air and, consequently, the pressure
that was driving it forward from behind.
Despite recommendations made by the enquiry and evidence that the Senghenyyd
pit was a dangerously dry, dusty and gassy mine, production there continued
to expand, reaching 1,800 tons a day by 1913. New safety legislation
laid down in the 1911 Coal Mines Act was not fully implemented. On 14
October 1913, Senghenydd pit saw the worst pit disaster in British mining
history in which 439 men and boys were killed, including eight 14 year
olds. Stanley Street alone lost 18 men.
Both the manager and owners of the Universal Colliery Company were
subsequently prosecuted. The £24 fine imposed on the manager produced
the headline 'Miners' Lives at 1s 1½d'. The acquittal of the
owners was challenged through the courts; they were eventually fined
£10 with £5 5s costs. William Hyatt, a miner who survived
the explosion, commented: 'my father always said there was more fuss
if a horse was killed underground than if a man was killed. Men came
cheap - they had to buy horses.'
The Universal Colliery closed in 1928 and its derelict workings were
demolished in 1963. A memorial to those who died in the two explosions
was erected in 1981.