Welcome to this website dedicated to compiling the definitive photographic history of Senghenydd. This small village in the south of Wales is unique as the site of the worst coal mining disaster in the history of the United Kingdom that killed 439 men on October 14, 1913.
Shortly after the tragedy, an unknown photographer named W. Benton arrived from Glasgow, and in the days that followed he (or she) documented the event in powerful and moving photographs. The resulting pictures were distributed as a series of 25 postcards at the time, and they remain the authoritative visual record of the event. This wasn't the first time tragedy had descended on the village, a dozen years prior, the same mine exploded, taking the lives of 81 miners.
And so it was that in the early part of the 20th century Senghenydd came to be defined by these twin horrors of the coal mining industry. In the decades since those momentous events the village has been photographed for less newsworthy reasons, recorded in pictures that depict a place which remains, essentially, and thankfully, unchanged.
My primary wish is to learn more about the place where I was born; and my grander one is to leave a visual record of the village to serve as a memorial of the past for the generations that follow. This will take time. I anticipate that the gathering of unique and quality photographs will be a gradual and evolving process over the coming years, the success of which will be dependent on the input and support of others, like you.
The 100th anniversary of the larger disaster is October 14, 2013. There's little doubt that on that date the media will swarm on this quiet little village to mark the anniversary and the world will finally become aware of what happened a century ago. The next day, the TV trucks and reporters and photographers will pack up and disappear and the village will go quiet again.
The people of Senghenydd will soon go back to their regular lives, this time in the knowledge that the poor men and boys who were lost that fateful day will have their rightful place in history.
New York City
September 21, 2013