The 1890 Morfa Colliery Disaster

The Morfa Colliery shortly after the 1863 explosion, as shown in the Illustrated London News. (Scanned image courtesy of Huw Daniel.)
The Morfa Pit at Taibach, Port Talbot, Glamorgan, was well known to be a very gassy mine. In 1863, 30 had been killed there in an explosion, and in 1870, 38. In the early hours of Tuesday, 10 March 1890, when about 250 men were working below ground, there was another violent blast. Those who made their escape did so only after long and painful struggle. In one group of six (including Rees OATES, a young boy, who survived) there were only two undamaged lamps. Everyone was so weak that as men fell insensible they had to be abandoned. Even the two rescue parties suffered casualties. In all, 87 were killed.

Locked safety lamps were in mandatory use. After the disaster, Isaac EVANS, a member of the exploration party, examined every lamp found near a body. All were in safe condition except for the lamp of John MORRIS, the gaffer haulier, which had been unlocked.

The Victims

See below for sources and notes.

NameOccupationAgeAddressCause of Death
William Barrasmanager75body not recovered
Griffith (Griff) Bevancollier27 or 32Taibachbody not recovered
Daniel Brownsell or Brownsillexplorer36 or 40Constantafter damp, cardiac failure
Daniel Buckleypumper29fire damp, burns
John Buckleypumper35fire damp, burns
William Henry Claturthy or Clatworthypumper18Morfafire damp, burns, compound fracture of both arms
William Curnick or Cormickplugman50 or 48Constantfire damp, burns
Thomas Danielairwayman29body not recovered
James or John Davidcollier42 or 40Bridge Rowbody not recovered
Thomas Davidrepairer47 or 46Bridge Rowfire damp, burns
David Daviesrepairer35 or 33Gwarrycaeaubody not recovered
Ebenezer Daviescollier31 or 36Miners Rowbody not recovered
Meredith Daviescollier31Constantbody not recovered
Thomas Davieshitcher19 or 20Stone Rowfire damp, burns
Evan Eleycollier37 or 40White Rowfire damp, burns
Edward Elliscollier51 or 48Chapel Rowfire damp, burns
Edward (Ted) Floydcollier25 or 32Constantbody not recovered
William Franciscollier28 or 34Taibachfire damp, burns
Daniel (Dan) Griffithscollier40 or 42Stone Rowbody not recovered
John Griffithscollier52 or 42Gwarrycaeaubody not recovered
Samuel (Sam) Griffithscollier50Stone Rowfire damp, burns
Evan Hedleyrepairer30 or 40Kenfig Hillbody not recovered
Bethuel Heycock or Haycockhaulier19Bridge Rowafter damp, asphyxia
David Hopkinshaulier48 or 52Incline Rowfire damp, burns
Thomas Hopkinscollier53 or 51Brick Rowbody not recovered
John Hoptonhaulier24body not recovered
Samuel (Sam) Howells or Howellcollier46Pantymachbody not recovered
William Jamescollier35Constantbody not recovered
William Jamescollier41 or 40Stone Rowbody not recovered
Frederick (Fred) William Jenkinsgreaser16Brick Rowfire damp, burns
Daniel Johncollier57Margam Terracefire damp, burns
David John or (Manney) Jonescollier50 or 52Aberavonfire damp, burns
John Jonescollier26Taibachbody not recovered
Joseph Jones [my ancestor]collier52Bridge Rowbody not recovered
William Jonescollier35 or 40Constantbody not recovered
William J. Joneshitcher18Taibachfire damp, burns
Thomas Kemphaulier19fire damp, burns
Patrick (Pat) Kennedypumper46fire damp, burns
David Kingcollier36 or 38Miners Rowbody not recovered
Benjamin (Ben) Lewiscollier40 or 28Stone Rowbody not recovered
John Lewiscollier33 or 38West Endbody not recovered
Simeon (Sim) Lewiscollier27Taibachafter damp
Thomas Lewiscollier42 or 40Goitrebody not recovered
William Lewiscollier34 or 36Brick Rowfire damp, burns
William Lewiscollier45 or 46Goitrebody not recovered
John Leyshonrepairer35 or 40Taibachfire damp, burns
Thomas Leyshoncollier30body not recovered
Thomas Leyshoncollier46 or 48Stone Rowbody not recovered
William Leyshoncollier49 or 50Constantbody not recovered
Richard Lucas or Lewishaulier36 or 40Taibachfire damp, burns, etc.
Noah Mandry or Mainwaring, jun. [see Note 1]collier34 or 50Cwmbrombilbody not recovered
Thomas Mandry or Mainwaringrepairer45after damp
David Matthew or Matthewscollier28 or 30White Rowbody not recovered
Thomas Milescollier47 or 48Penycaefire damp, burns
Evan Morgansignalman20 or 21Brick Rowfire damp, burns
Evan Morgancollier33Taibachbody not recovered
John Morrisoverman46 or 47Morfafire damp, burns, slight after damp
John Morriscollier46 or 44Stone Rowfire damp, burns
John Nichols or Nicholls or Nicholasairwayman65 or 62Salt Lakebody not recovered
John Henry Nicholls or Nicholas, jun.collier29 or 28Taibachfire damp, burns all over body
Thomas Oats or Oates, jun.collier20Brick Rowfire damp, burns
Henry Parkerlabourer44body not recovered
Alfred Phillipscollier40Brick Rowbody not recovered
John Pippin or Peppincollier34 or 39Brick Rowbody not recovered
David Pricehaulier31 or 36Tanygroesfire damp, burns
John Readyrepairer58 or 50Aberavonbody not recovered
David Reesostler40Groeswenfire damp, burns
Lewis Reescollier40 or 42Brick Rowbody not recovered
David Richardscollier35 or 36Stone Rowbody not recovered
William Scottcollier29 or 31Gibson Terracefire damp, burns
William Taylor, jun.haulier15fire damp, burns
Evan Thomascollier37 or 34Cwmbrombilbody not recovered
Joseph Thomascollier50Penycaefire damp, burns all over body
Thomas or William Thomascollier30 or 32Margambody not recovered
James Tippott or Tippetthaulier17 or 16Taibachfire damp, burns
William Vanstonecollier31 or 32Penycaebody not recovered
Isaac Waltersfan driver23 or 16White Rowfire damp, burns
Richard Walterscollier50 or 49Taibachfire damp, burns
Joseph Weeks or Hicks [see Note 2]hitcher26 or 20Aberavonfire damp, burns
David Williamscollier49 or 46Stone Rowbody not recovered
David Williamshitcher19Stone Rowfire damp, burns
Henry Williamsrepairer66 or 70Aberavonbody not recovered
Isaac Williamscollier47 or 50Constantbody not recovered
Joseph or James Williamsrepairer32 or 16Taibachfire damp, burns
Thomas Henry Williamscollier31 or 36Brick Rowfire damp, burns
David Wyld or Wildroadman40fire damp, burns
Thomas Yorwerth or Yorathhaulier33 or 38Taibachbody not recovered



Many additional details are found in the contemporary reports in The Times and The Cambrian (Swansea). The following details are from other sources:

  1. An obituary of Margaret Mainwaring, widow of Noah Mandry or Mainwaring, appeared in the Glamorgan Gazette in Feb 1946 (Clive Blakemore).
  2. At the inquest, the body of Joseph Weeks was identified by his father-in-law, Thomas Gilbert, of Vivian Row, Sandfield (Fieldhouse and Dunn).

content last revised 8 Apr 2007