'The Graphic'

Amongst my collection of Senghenydd disaster artifacts is this two-page photo essay that appeared in a weekly magazine called The Graphic, published on  October 18, 1913. I have done only preliminary research on what kind of magazine The Graphic was, and as far as I can tell, it appears to have been some kind of early newsmagazine, like Newsweek is today. It should be noted that the photo spread in the magazine is dated only four days after the event occurred, so it was no small feat for the edition to gather the pictures, go to press and publish the photo story so quickly, on deadline, some 94 years ago.  


The headline to the story is, "The Price of Coal": The Terrible  Colliery Disaster in South Wales", and the short story text that appeared below the photo essay reads as follows:


"The grim tragedy of the sea¹ has been quickly followed by a still grimmer tragedy, one of land, for the horrors of a ship on fire are surely eclipsed by the horrors of a burning mine, where the men are entombed in the very bowels of the earth, with flames and suffocating smoke and the deadly after-damp cutting them of from rescue.  The Universal Colliery, Senghenydd, Glamorganshire, was the scene of the disaster, which happened on Tuesday morning, when 923 men were at work in the mine. At eight o'clock there was a terrible explosion in the Lancaster Pit, the whole gear at the pit-head being blown to atoms, and immediately afterwards one-half of the mine was a mass of flames. Rescue parties speedily descended the adjoining York Pit, and it was discovered that while the men in this part of the mine--some 500 in number--were sate, over 400 miners were imprisoned behind a wall of fire, with their supply of good air cut off. For many hours no progress was made, but presently one man was found alive, and at intervals throughout the night an occasional rescue was effected until the total came to eighteen, while ninety nine were brought up on Wednesday.  Little hope was held out of saving more, and if all the imprisoned men have perished the disaster will have been the greatest that has ever occurred in a British mine."


¹The first sentence compares the Senghenydd disaster to an unspecified tragedy at sea which must have been in the news at around that same time. I believe that the "horrors of a ship fire" refers to the final voyage of the Volturno which suffered a fire in the Mid-Atlantic that killed 134 people onboard. The magnitude of the mine disaster, with more than three times the loss of life, would have quickly overtaken the ship story in newsrooms around the world.


Can you help, or do you have questions? fortheminers@senghenydd.net