CBHC / RCAHMW > News > Aberfan Remembered: a Terrible Twist of Fate

Aberfan Remembered: a Terrible Twist of Fate

A village war memorial in a South Wales valley has almost 150 names of those who died in the First World War. This is an extremely high figure for a small mining community.

Then, 21 years later, another global conflict resulted in 50 more servicemen losing their lives.

By terrible coincidence, after a gap of a further 21 years, 144 more lives were tragically lost – inflicting a cruel loss on yet another generation. That village is Aberfan.

At 9:15am on Friday 21 October 1966, a large section of No. 7 colliery waste tip was de-stabilized after a period of sustained heavy rainfall. On its way downhill the landslide engulfed a small farm, twenty houses, and the village school. The RAF vertical aerial photograph, taken shortly after the disaster, clearly shows the scale of the landslip and its destructive path.

Aberfan 1966 RAF vertical aerial photograph from the Royal Commission’s archive

Aberfan 1966 RAF vertical aerial photograph from the Royal Commission’s archive.



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7 years ago

I remember this day vividy – watching the news on TV as the bodies of children were being recovered. I was the same age of some of those children who died and my primary school in south east London organised a collection for the families in Aberfan. It was a terrible tragedy that should never happened. The Coal Board and the government at the time were well aware of the instability of the coal tip in Aberfan and others in the Valleys and did nothing to prevent what happened that day, the last day before October half term. The victims… Read more »

Adrian Harris
Adrian Harris
2 years ago

I was also about the same age (born 1954) and remember sitting at home, which was 40 miles away from the area, with my Grandma watching the whole incident unfold on the TV. I too will never forget that day and have visited the place of remembrance that is where the school was and of course paid my respects at the graves of the many children that died and are buried close by. It is an eerie and yet peaceful place.


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