A Tragedy at Loveston

Posted by Tenby Museum on Mar 19, 2019 Blog, Event Archive, Exhibition Archive, News No Comments

As part of its regular series of talks about local history and natural events Tenby Museum and Art Gallery welcomed David Llewellyn, archivist with a keen interest in the local mining history, to give a talk on Loveston Colliery disaster. The event was extremely well attended and took place on the 15th of March. Many know of the events at Landshipping, but the stories here were new to many of the audience.

David related how the importance of the Pembrokeshire coalfields in the 18th and 19th centuries is too often overlooked. Most lost and abandoned mine workings lie below the many fields but they also had a major impact on local employment. The Wood Level mine at Stepaside was the last to close in 1950. The coal seams extended from the Gwendraeth Valley inland to Cresswell Quay and had been active since the 13th Century. Although the quality of coal was high the seams were not, nearly as narrow as 18 to 24 inches. As techniques and equipment improved, with the introduction of steam power, the mines sunk deeper and in 1931 new mine workings were started at Loveston, although there have been other small, earlier extractions in the area. On a very miserable and wet Friday evening in Tenby, David Llewllyn took us to a wonderful, perfect May spring day in Loveston 1936 when a tragedy unfolded. David recounted in detail how the accident occurred that took the lives of seven miners who lived in the nearby villages. The mine became flooded as the water from an old mine, abandoned some 80 years before, rushed into the tunnels and dramways. His retelling of the events meant the audience felt every rush of the incoming water, the struggle of many to save themselves, the selflessness of those who turned back to help others and eventually the grief of the five widows and 14 children, bereaved by the accident. The poignancy of the story was felt moreso by the large audience as several were direct descendants of those who had lost their lives and those who survived. The talk was followed by lots of questions and other stories emerged. The evening was oversubscribed and Tenby Museum will hope to schedule the talk again before too long.