Rescued coal miners

Rescued coal miners

A carte de visite showing five of the miners rescued from a flooded pit at the Ty Newydd Colliery near Pontypridd in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales. Their ordeal began on the evening of 11 April 1877 when water broke through the walls of the pit from an adjacent abandoned mine. The four men and a boy were trapped underground for a week while shifts of rescuers worked round the clock to reach them. They had no food and candles enough only for the first two days. The latter five days they were in total darkness. Newspapers all over the country avidly reported every detail of the drama as it unfolded.

Four other miners had already been rescued from a different part of the mind. Five others were not so lucky and died in the disaster, four from drowning and one from an explosion of compressed air when the rescuers first broke through.

On 4 May 1877 the South Wales Daily News reported that ‘Messrs W. and D. Downey, London and Newcastle, photographers to the Queen, took a number of photographs of the rescued men and the rescuers during the day, especially for Her Majesty. The five men, George Jenkins, Moses Powell, David Jenkins, David Hughes, and John Thomas, were taken in a group at the pit’s mouth in their colliery dress. The men wrote their names on the back of the card on which the photograph is to be affixed. Moses Powell, David Jenkins and David Hughes each wrote their own names, the other men had to affix their mark to the card. Another photograph was taken of the rescued and the rescuers together. In all, about a dozen views were taken, including portraits of the doctor and others.’

Young David Hughes is the lad at the centre of the group.

Photographed by William and Daniel Downey of London and Newcastle.

Entered at Stationers’ Hall on 10 May 1877. The registration form reads: 'Photograph group of 5 Welsh Miners rescued from Mine at Pontypridd, all full face, seated.’

Code: 122945
© Paul Frecker 2022