It was on a dark October morn
When a South Wales town was so forlorn
A little village it was filled with strife
As a gross of people lost life’s fight
The disaster was fifty years ago
Generations they will never know
The love of life and what it would hold
As the slag heap started to roll
Down the hill the school day had begun
Unfortunately, with no time to run
One and all were buried alive
Not one soul, in its way, survived!
Many a boy, girl, woman and man
Lost their lives in the school at Aberfan
All flowers on graves are still well kept
In remembrance of the tears they wept
So many lives that would never be
They are lost for all eternity
Generations that would never see
A dawning day in that welsh valley
The Aberfan disaster was a catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966, killing 116 children and 28 adults. It was caused by a build-up of water in the accumulated rock and shale, which suddenly started to slide downhill in the form of slurry.
Over 40,000 cubic metres of debris covered the village in minutes, and the classrooms at Pantglas Junior School were immediately inundated, with young children and teachers dying from impact or suffocation. Many noted the poignancy of the situation: if the disaster had struck a few minutes earlier, the children would not have been in their classrooms, and if it had struck a few hours later, the school would have broken up for half-term.
Great rescue efforts were made, but the large numbers who crowded into the village tended to hamper the work of the trained rescue teams, and delayed the arrival of mineworkers from the Merthyr Vale Colliery. Only a few lives could be saved in any case.
The official inquiry blamed the National Coal Board for extreme negligence, and its Chairman, Lord Robens, for making misleading statements. Parliament soon passed new legislation about public safety in relation to mines and quarries.
George L. Ellison is a writer of poetry and short stories. He has published three books called Poetic Reminiscences, Weaving Words and Reflections. George lives with his wife and dogs in Chester-Le-Street, County Durham in England. He is a member of The Writers and Poetry Alliance and owner of Poetry and short story ink. George has a Facebook Author page and is currently working on various projects as well as learning to play the saxophone at the Sage Gateshead!