Remembering the Six Bells Colliery disaster sixty years on

The Guardian statue at the former Six Bells site is a tribute to the victims of the Credit: Mike Griffiths/ITV News

Relatives of the victims of the Six Bells mining disaster are remembering their loved ones on the sixtieth anniversary of the tragedy.

On June 28 1960, an explosion tore through underground workings at Six Bells Colliery in Abertillery, killing 45 men.

  • Watch my report from Six Bells below

Hazel Crandon can picture the day vividly. Her father-in-law and brother-in-law both worked at Six Bells.

When news of the explosion broke, she rushed to her mother-in-law's house.

Hazel Crandon at the Guardian memorial, with a photo of her father-in-law Thomas George Crandon Credit: Mike Griffiths/ITV News

Thomas George Crandon, 46, had been carrying out repair work underground.

At 10:45am, a ignition of gases caused an explosion in the district of the mine he and 48 others were working in.

Only three of the men survived.

The Guardian statue looks down on Six Bells and Abertillery Credit: Mike Griffiths/ITV News

19-year old Dennis Lane was one of the youngest victims.

His cousin Pat, who was away training as a nurse, returned home to Abertillery on hearing the news.

Pat Fry said she and cousin Dennis Lane were Credit: Mike Griffiths/ITV News

Sixty years on, Pat remembers her cousin with great fondness.

Dennis's body was the first to be recovered.

A definitive cause for the explosion was never established, although a spark from a falling rock was thought to have been highly likely.

The demolition of Six Bells Colliery in early 1989 Credit: Six Bells Regeneration

Six Bells Colliery returned to production following the disaster. It later merged with Marine Colliery in Cwm, before closing in 1988.

The colliery buildings were soon demolished, leaving little sign of the site's previous purpose, or indeed anything to represent the tragedy of 1960.

A small memorial to the disaster was erected in Six Bells in 1995.

The Guardian monument overlooking the landscaped Six Bells site Credit: Mike Griffiths/ITV News

2010 saw a major development for the 50th anniversary of the disaster - the construction of a 20 metre high steel statue.

Designed by Sebastian Boyesen, the Guardian stands on the Six Bells site itself, inscribed with the names of the 45 men who died.

The names of the disaster victims form an integral part of the statue Credit: Mike Griffiths/ITV News

This year, lockdown restrictions mean the annual service at St John's Church isn't able to happen.

But the anniversary won't be forgotten.

Prayers will be said at the Guardian. Local schoolchildren have been learning about the disaster in recent weeks. And thousands of people have now visited the site, learning of a tragedy that's still remembered across the valley.

The Guardian bears the names of the men who died, and is also intended to represent miners across Wales Credit: Mike Griffiths/ITV News