Haydn Evans

Scope and Content

Aberfan Disaster Inquiry proceedings 1966.

Administrative / Biographical History

On October 21st 1966 a coal waste tip slid down a mountainside destroying a farmhouse and engulfing a farm cottage, Pantglas Junior School and about 20 houses in the village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. 144 people were killed, 116 of them children. About half the total number of pupils at Pantglas Junior School were killed along with 5 of their teachers.

A Tribunal was appointed on the 26th October 1966 by the Secretary of State for Wales, Cledwyn Hughes, in order to make enquiries into what exactly happened and why it happened, whether the disaster had been avoidable and whether anyone or anything was to blame, and finally, to consider what lessons could be learnt from the disaster. The Tribunal sat for 76 days. Evidence suggested that the tip stability had long been a local source of concern and that the National Coal Board had no policy for safe tipping. Lord Robens, chairman of the National Coal Board admitted that the National Coal Board had been at fault. The Tribunal retired to consider the evidence before publishing its Report on 3rd August 1967. The Report blamed the National Coal Board and ordered the board to pay out compensation. Nine individuals were critisised although none were faced with criminal proceedings. It was emphasised that 'ignorance, ineptitude and a failure of communications' resulted in the disaster.

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