Thursday, 20 October 2016

Aberfan - 50 years on

On Friday 21st October 1966, I was one week away from my 6th birthday and was at school at Dean Row Infant School, Cheshire. On that same day in Aberfan, South Wales, 116 children and 28 adults were to tragically lose their lives, when a huge landslide of coal slurry would engulf their school.

I was too young at the time to know anything about this tragedy, but would learn later as a young adult and teacher. I have always felt very affected by this awful event and believe it is important that it is not forgotten about.

This very powerful British Pathe video from the time, shows exactly what it was like:


'The tragedy happened at 0915, just as the pupils of Pantglas Juniour School were about to embark on their first lessons. Some children were filing into classrooms ready for register. 

In total, 144 people were killed - 116  of them children. The last body was recovered nearly a week after the disaster  happened.


The NCB (National Coal Board) said abnormal rainfall had caused the coal waste to move.
The inquiry of Tribunal later found that the NCB was wholly to blame and should pay compensation for loss and personal injuriies.
The NCB and Treasury refused to accept full financial responsibility for the tragedy, so the Aberfan Disaster Fund had to contribute £150,000 towards removing the remaining tip that overlooked the village.
This was fully repaid in 1997, by the then Secretary of State for Wales, Ron Davies.' BBC On This Day.


Here are some writing ideas for children to learn about Aberfan:

1) Imagine you are a newspaper reporter at the time of the tragedy. Write an article for your paper, explaining to your readers what has happened.

2) Imagine you have been asked to interview one of the mothers who's child had died on that day. What questions would you ask them? What answers would they give?

3) Imagine you are one of the children who was lucky enough to escape the disaster. Maybe you didn't go to school that day? Maybe you were late to school? Maybe you were lucky enough to have been rescued? Write a diary entry for that morning of 21st October 1966.

For more teaching resources about Aberfan follow the links below:

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