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  1. ITV Report

Commemoration service marks 100 years since Levant mining disaster

The Levant mining disaster happened on October 20, 1919. Credit: ITV News West Country

A service of commemoration has been held in Cornwall to remember the men who died in one of the county’s worst-ever mining accidents.

On October 20, 1919, a wooden transportation system called a ‘Man Engine’ collapsed - killing 31 men in the Levant tin and copper mine.

The mine near St Just was closed at the weekend while relatives of the victims attended a service at St Just Miner’s Chapel to pay tribute to them.

A service was held at St Just Miners' Chapel to mark 100 years since the disaster. Credit: ITV News West Country

It’s almost impossible to imagine. They lost something like thirty four men in the First World War, five of the people who were killed at Levant had come back from the trenches.

Suddenly on top of that, another thirty one men ripped out of its heart. It must have been absolutely awful.

One of the reports I read, a person said the whole sky darkened.

– David James, St Just Miners' Chapel

As part of the centenary, a team restored the graves of 15 of the men who died in the disaster and were buried at the chapel.

The man engine would take the miners into the deepest parts of the mine, and out again, using a system of moving wooden platforms.

Thirty one men died in the disaster. Credit: ITV News West Country

On the fatal day, a link between the rod and the engine snapped with about 130 men on board, sending the timbers and platforms down the shaft.

The accident marked the beginning of the end of the once highly lucrative mine, which closed in 1933.