What Happened At Aberfan In 1966 And How It Was Portrayed In Season 3 Of “The Crown”!

welsh mining accident

The day’s math lesson with Jeff Edwards had just begun when a distant rumble sounded. Later, he recalled, “the next thing I remember was waking up.”

There was water gushing out of the radiator where my right foot was stuck. A girl’s head was on my left shoulder and my desk was pressed up against my stomach. “She had already died.”

Edwards, then 8 years old, was unable to catch his breath for the next hour and a half as he watched his classmates writhe in terror under a deluge of liquefied coal waste. He later remarked, “They got quieter and quieter,… buried and running out of air.”

At about 11 a.m., someone noticed a stray tuft of Edwards’ blonde hair among the debris. A firefighter pried the boy out from under his desk with a hatchet and led him to safety in a human chain. Edwards was the tenth kid to be saved that morning, and he was the last one.

Over a hundred and sixteen children, many of them students at Pantglas Junior School in the Welsh town of Aberfan, perished in the tragedy that occurred on October 21, 1966. A tribunal appointed to investigate the incident concluded that the fatal accident “could and should have been prevented,” and BBC News’ Ceri Jackson described it as a “mistake that cost a village its children.”

How Did The Disaster Happen?

The hills surrounding Aberfan contained eleven peaks. It was Tip No. 7, which had been built in 1958 and was more than 111 feet tall; it was estimated to have contained 140,000 cubic yards of garbage before it collapsed.

How Did The Disaster Happen

The weeks of heavy rain had saturated the ground, making the mountain of spoil unstable, and the springs beneath it.

On the morning of October 21st, after another night of heavy rain, the morning mining shift started their shift at 7.30 am and noticed some slippage in Number 7 tip.

At 9:15 a.m., a chunk of Tip No. 7 detached and started rolling down the hill toward the town below.

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How Many People Died?

A large number of people, including 116 children (half of the village’s children) and 28 adults, were killed when the slurry from the collapse of the spoil tip engulfed the nearby Pantglas Junior School.

Another six adults and 29 children were injured. In order to rescue the kids, “civil defense teams, miners, policemen, firemen, and other volunteers toiled desperately, sometimes tearing at the coal rubble with their bare hands,” as reported by the New York Times.

The Queen’s Alleged Biggest Regret Is The Creation Of Aberfan

The Queen was informed of the tragedy soon after it occurred, but she waited eight days to pay her condolences to the Welsh community.

The Queen's Alleged Biggest Regret Is The Creation Of Aberfan

When the Queen visited Aberfan, I believe she was profoundly moved by the experience. In the film Elizabeth: Our Queen, Sir William Heseltine, who worked in the royal press office at the time, revealed that this was “one of the rare occasions” on which the queen wept in public.

With the benefit of hindsight, I believe she wished she had gone sooner. What I think people craved most from her was for her to be present and show empathy, and I think we learned something from that.

The Queen was steadfast in her refusal to travel, despite widespread calls for her to do so.

A trusted advisor of the Queen told her biographer Robert Lacey, “We kept presenting the arguments, but nothing we said could persuade her.”

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Queen Elizabeth II instead dispatched Prince Philip. Lord Snowdon, her brother-in-law, went there on his own.

After hearing the news of the disaster over the radio, “I felt I should be there because I was Welsh and thought the Welsh should stick together.

Snowdon said as much to WalesOnline in 2006 for a piece commemorating the tragedy’s fortieth anniversary. “So I just got on a train and went straight down,” he said.

Producers Of The Crown Consulted with Disaster-Area Residents To Ensure Sensitivity In Their Treatment Of The Subject

Edwards told the BBC he has been in touch with the show’s creators and that he has organized community meetings to discuss the show.

Edwards said last September, “Following these meetings, the production team decided to put on a public meeting,” which was held earlier this month. “A dozen or so residents turned up,” and “they outlined their proposals to them.”

Producers Of The Crown Consulted with Disaster-Area Residents To Ensure Sensitivity In Their Treatment Of The Subject

The show’s creators also issued a statement explaining their decision to include the disaster and its aftermath in Season 3 of The Crown, saying,

“The third season of The Crown will cover the major historical events of Elizabeth II’s reign from 1963-1977 and all strongly felt the Aberfan disaster and the events that followed must be included, especially as it continues to hold a deep resonance for the nation and the Queen herself.”

The statement continues, “As producers, we feel a responsibility to remain true to the memory and the experience of the survivors, and we have met with community leaders and the people of Aberfan on a number of occasions as part of our in-depth research and to discuss our approach.” Cwmaman is supposedly used instead of Aberfan for these shots.

Final Words

Due to the large volume and uniformity of the spoil, it took a week to recover all of the bodies; the final victim was discovered on October 28. On October 29th, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came to Aberfan to honor the community’s deceased.


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Karan Siradi

I am an author and a public speaker. I was born in India and have travelled to many different countries. I have a masters in public communication from California University and I love to write about famous peoples from different industries.

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