Aberfan

Cleaned-Up/Rebuilt Site

Overview

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Aberfan was a small, coal mining village in South East Wales whose name has become part of the national consciousness of Wales. On 21st October 1966, one of the mountains of coal dust and industrial spoil which surrounded the village became unstable and collapsed.

Tons of mud, slurry and liquid coal dust raced down the mountainside and engulfed the village school, killing 144 people, 116 of them children.

This is an extract from an essay by the poet Laurie Lee about his visit to Aberfan made in 1967, just a year after the tragedy.

"Fragments of the school itself still lie embedded in the rubbish – chunks of green-painted classroom wall…. Even more poignant relics lie in a corner of the buried playground piled haphazardly against a wall – some miniature desks and chairs, evocative as a dead child’s clothes, infant-sized, still showing the shape of their bodies. Among the rubble there also lie crumpled song-books, sodden and smeared with slime, the words of some bed-time song still visible on the pages surrounded by drawings of sleeping elves."

Following the Aberfan disaster, mine-waste tips, which had been piled precariously on hilltops in many cases, were extensively regraded and reclaimed.

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