History – Mining Disaster

The effects of mining disasters affected many villages in the Vale, and Treoes was no exception.

In 1856 the explosion at the Cymmer Pit was one of the worst disasters ever witnessed in South Wales, as the following record, as posted on the http://www.aaditnow.co.uk website, testifies:

 Cymmer colliery
Cymmer colliery


On the morning of the15th of July the explosion on the Insole Pit at Cymmer was the most fearful and destructive, resulting in the sacrifice of human life, unparalled in the history of Britain at that time. At 6.00am 160 men and boys descended the shaft to begin their shift and were on their way to their working places when the explosion took place. The ferocity of the explosion led rescuers to believe that all lives below ground would be lost. Some miners had only descended a short way into the pit and were able to make their way back to the shaft and safety.” 


The bodies of 112 men were brought to the surface, most badly burnt but some died of suffocation. One of the survivors died later making the total deaths 113. 

Among the dead was Zachariah Richards, aged 25 years. Zachariah Richards was born in Llangan Parish in 1831 and was the third son of John and Mary Richards of Treoes, Llangan. His brothers were Thomas and David and he had two sisters: Ann and Catharine. 

Zachariah had married Ann in 1851 and was residing in Thomas Rees Row, Bryncoch. He was buried in Saron Chapel graveyard, his grave is at the end of the far wall nearest to the chapel.

The inquest into the disaster was held in the Butchers’ Arms, Pontypridd, where the manager and overmen were tried for manslaughter. They were acquitted, and this left a legacy of bitterness in the nearby communities for more than a generation. 

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