This year is the eightieth anniversary of the Gresford Colliery Disaster and Wrexham Museum is commemorating what was the worst day in the history of the North Wales coalfield with two special exhibitions.
The first of these exhibitions ‘A Light In The Dark: Coal, Colliers & Communities’ focuses on the miners of Wales, the challenges they faced, the disasters they endured and the bravery they showed through a collection of paintings, medals and mining memorabilia from the National Library of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.
The exhibition helps to place the Gresford Colliery Disaster in context both through paintings that reveal life as a miner in Wales and through medals and memorials associated with the 1913 Senghenydd Colliery explosion (which caused the greatest loss of life in a single accident in the history of UK coal mining) and the Tynewydd Colliery inundation (where the bravery shown by the rescue teams led to the creation of the first official medals to honour gallantry by civilians on land in the United Kingdom).
Highlights of the exhibition include:
– Miners Returning from Work, Archie Rhys Griffiths, oil on canvas,1932
– Propping After the Blast, Vincent Evans, oil on canvas, 1935
– Tankard, awarded by the Daily Telegraph Welsh Miners Fund to one of the heroes of the Tynewydd Colliery flooding, 1877
– Memorial serviette, from a fundraising dinner to help the families of victims of the Senghenydd Colliery Disaster
– Albert Medal, awarded to William Beith, one of the heroes of the Tynewydd Colliery Disaster, 1877
– Pocket watch and case, used to identify Mr Evan Weston, one of the 439 miners killed in the explosion at Universal Colliery, Senghenydd, 1913.
Jonathon Gammond, Access & Interpretation Officer at Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives told our reporter “The story of the Gresford Colliery Disaster is one of the most moving events in the history of the North Wales coalfield and later this year, we will be opening a new display focused on the disaster. This exhibition, however, looks at the bigger picture of coal mining in Wales.
Visitors will be able to see two paintings, examples of the work of Archie Rhys Griffiths and Vincent Evans, the only Welsh miners to professionally train as artists. The quality of their work alone makes a visit to this exhibition a must. Other major highlights of the exhibition are the medals, the tankard and the ewer behind which are stories of bravery, endurance and self-sacrifice.
Once again Gallery 2 at Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives has provided an opportunity for these important objects from our national collections to go on display in Wrexham. For all the objects, this exhibition will be the first time they have ever been displayed in north-east Wales.”
The exhibition opens on Monday, 14th July and runs until Saturday, 17th January 2015. Admission is free.