South entrance to Aberfan in November 2005
Aberfan shown within Merthyr Tydfil
|OS grid reference|
|Principal area||Merthyr Tydfil|
|Ceremonial county||Mid Glamorgan|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||Merthyr Tydfil|
|UK Parliament||Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney|
|Welsh Assembly||Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney|
Aberfan (Welsh pronunciation: [ˌabɛrˈvan]) is a former coal mining village in South Wales, 4 miles (6 km) south of town of Merthyr Tydfil. The Taff Trail (locally known as the "Canal Bank" or just "the bank") runs through Aberfan from Troed-y-rhiw, to Treharris. The River Taff also flows through Aberfan.
Bethania Welsh Independent Chapel was built in 1876 and rebuilt if 1885. At the time of the Aberfan disaster in 1966 the chapel was used as a temporary mortuary where victims were taken to be identified by relatives. The chapel was demolished in 1967 and new chapel erected in 1970. By 2007 the chapel had fallen into disrepair and was closed; memorial items from the disaster were relocated at Cardiff Bay.
In 2015 a fire was reported at the chapel in the early hours of 11 July. Fire crews from Merthyr, Treharris, Abercynon, Aberbargoed, Pontypridd and Barry attended, spending a total of eight hours at the scene. Nearby houses were evacuated. A 27-year old man was later arrested in relation to the fire.
For many years, millions of cubic metres of excavated mining debris from the colliery were deposited on the side of Mynydd Merthyr, directly above the village of Aberfan on the opposite side of the valley. Huge piles, or "tips", of loose rock and mining spoil had been built up over a layer of highly porous sandstone that contained numerous underground springs, and several tips had been built up directly over these springs. Although local authorities had raised specific concerns in 1963 about spoil being tipped on the mountain above the village primary school, these were largely ignored by the National Coal Board's area management.
Early on the morning of Friday, 21 October 1966, after several days of heavy rain, a subsidence of about 3–6 metres occurred on the upper flank of colliery waste tip No. 7. At 9:15 a.m. more than 150,000 cubic metres of water-saturated debris broke away and flowed downhill at high speed. A mass of over 40,000 cubic metres of debris slid into the village in a slurry 12 metres (39 ft) deep.
The slide destroyed a farm and twenty terraced houses along Moy Road, and struck the northern side of the Pantglas Junior School and part of the separate senior school, demolishing most of the structures and filling the classrooms with thick mud and rubble up to 10 metres (33 ft) deep. Mud and water from the slide flooded many other houses in the vicinity, forcing many villagers to evacuate their homes.
In total, 116 children and 28 adults were killed.
After the disaster the Mayor of Merthyr immediately launched a Disaster Fund to aid the village and the bereaved. The fund’s final sum totalled approximately £1,750,000. In 1997 this represented approximately £17.5 million in donations. The concerns of the village and donors grew about how the money in the fund would be used, with the community split between compensating the bereaved, whilst others felt it should benefit the wider community. The funds paid for the memorial garden and cemetery along with other facilities to aid the regeneration of Aberfan both physically and emotionally.
The cemetery is where many of the victims are buried. The original Portland and Nabresina Stone memorials erected shortly after the disaster began to deteriorate and in 2007 the Aberfan Memorial Charity refurbished the garden area, including all of the archways and memorials. The weathered masonry was replaced with polished pearl white granite, all inscriptions were re-engraved and additional archways were erected.
The Coventry Playground was built in 1972 on the site of the old Merthyr Vale School, with the monies collected by the people of Coventry. The playground was officially opened by the mayor of Coventry.
A memorial garden was opened on the site of Pantglas Primary School, which was destroyed during the disaster, the park was partly opened by the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh on her visit to Aberfan in 1974.
The Aberfan Memorial Charity was founded in 1989 and is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the cemetery and memorial garden.
There are now two schools, Ynysowen Primary School adjacent to the Grove Field and Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Rhyd y Grug which has moved to the previously occupied Ynysowen Primary School building.
- Aberfan & Merthyr Vale Community Centre - a community centre with a swimming pool, fitness room, weights room, cafe and a hall.
- The post office in the village is open six days a week.
- Aberfan Cemetery and Aberfan Disaster Memorial.
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- "Her Majesty: new book of photographs celebrating the life of Queen Elizabeth II". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
- Johnes, Martin. "The Aberfan Disaster Fund". nuffield.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 July 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
- "Petition to save Aberfan memorial". BBC News. 13 July 2004. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
- "THE ABERFAN MEMORIAL CHARITY :: OpenCharities". opencharities.org. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
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