Colliery disaster at Ferndale, Rhondda valley, Wales 1867.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News'. Ferndale Colliery, opened in 1857 by David Davis was a steam coal colliery. The pit disaster of 8 November 1867, two consecutive explosions, caused by either by a sudden fall in the barometer or by men working with naked lights, killed 178 men and boys and shocked the nation. The dead are carried out in a procesion of coffins, accompanied by crowds of mourners. A further explosion in 1869 gave the colliery a reputation as particularly dangerous place. To improve the ventilation in an attempt to prevent such accidents, a second shaft was sunk in 1870, which later became another working mine.