Parc Slip Explosion And My Memories Of Aberkenfig

A Memory of Aberkenfig

Parc Slip Exposion – 26th August 1892 and-My memories of home life and school

On the morning of Friday the 26th August 1892 an explosion occurred at Parc Slip Colliery, The Fountain, Aberkenfig, near Bridgend in which my (Catherine Delahay’s) great grandfather Lewis Cockram aged 28 was killed together with his three brothers, George, John & Thomas Cockram. They were the sons of George and Elizabeth Cockram. Lewis Cockram’s widow Catherine, my great grandmother (perhaps I was named after her) was left with two small children, William Morgan Cockram (my grandfather) and Lavinia (known to us as Auntie Vin) who was married to Evan James. They were granted 6d for each child and 2 shillings (old money) per week for the widow from the Parc Slip Relief Fund.. I don’t know how they survived but my great grandmother brought up these two children on her own with the help from relatives, especially her brother and sister. (John Richards who kept the ironmongers at Bridgend Road, Aberkenfig and Lizzie Richards).

I was born at 2 Heol Persondy, Aberkenfig, nr Bridgend, Glamorgan, South Wales on the 2nd June 1938 - where my great uncle Bill was living. After the explosion Uncle Bill started his own drift mine at Tondu Woods and with the money he made, he built four houses at Heol Persondy. He built 2 Heol Persondy now known as “Cornerways” a few years after building three houses across the road. My mother went to look after Uncle Bill as housekeeper after the death of his wife.Uncle Bill survived the explosion as he went to the St. Mary Hill Fair that day. It was held on the 26th August every year and to go to the Fair would mean losing a day’s wages unless a “buddy” would exchange shifts. Quite a few of the miners went to the Fair which was very popular at that time and so survived the explosion. One hundred and twelve men and boys were killed in that awful explosion and without doubt one of the most tragic events in the history of our locality. The victims left behind them over 200 dependents-widows, children and elderly parents. On the 26th August 1992 Mum, Joy, Dorothy, Glenys, Peter and Roger and myself attended the centenary memorial Service at Parc Slip now a Nature Reserve. The names of the dead were read out by The Lord Lieutenant for Mid Glamorgan Murray McLaggan. It was a very moving moment when my great grandfather’s name was read out together with the names of his three brothers. It brought tears to my eyes but I wouldn’t have missed that occasion. The climax of that Centenary Memorial Service was when all descendents of the dead gathered around the lasting memorial consisting of 112 local stones, symbolised to represent those 112 men and boys who lost their lives in the explosion. It is continually bathed in water, symbolising the continuous memory of those who lost their lives. I remember mum telling us that when she was growing up there was a sadness felt in the village on the anniversary of the explosion on the 26th August. Many families in Aberkenfig, Cefn Cribbwr and surrounding areas were affected by the deaths of these men and boys.

A memory shared by Catherine Delahay , on Mar 17th, 2011.

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