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UK: Last Survivor of Gresford Colliery Disaster Celebrates 100th Birthday

 

 

September 3, 2020 - In the UK, the last survivor of a mining disaster in north Wales that killed 266 people including his own dad in 1934 has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Albert Rowlands was just 14 and a lamp boy when an underground explosion occurred at the Gresford Colliery near Wrexham.

 

Albert Rowlands turned 100-years-old and is the last living survivor of the mining disaster.

Albert and just five others were able to escape the shafts while other men were left trapped.

After managing to get out after the blast, Albert went on to serve in World War II with the Royal Army Services.

Now a great-grandfather, Albert is believed to be the last living survivor of the mining explosion and celebrated his milestone birthday with a socially-distanced party at his care home with family. When speaking of the fateful day nearly 90 years ago, Albert recalled how he hoped his dad would surface from the mine.

 

Crowds gathered on the surface near the mine on the day of the disaster, but only 11 bodies were ever found.

His father John had won the Military Medal at the Battle of the Somme in the First World War before returning to work as a miner, but he died in the explosion aged 43.

"They only found 11 bodies and they came up covered in blankets. I saw them. But by Sunday they had given up," Albert continued.

"He never came back and his name tag was left hanging on its hook.”

After the disaster Albert moved to Manchester before eventually living in London, South Africa and Spain before returning to Wrexham with his late wife Marie who died in 2008.

The couple had six children, 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, some of which were able to celebrate the milestone birthday.

 

Crowds gathered on the surface near the mine on the day of the disaster, but only 11 bodies were ever found.



Albert's daughter Patricia Oldham said that despite her father's age he still has 'a twinkle in his eye'.

"To reach 100 years of age is a remarkable feat and he’s led a very full life. His card from Her Majesty the Queen will take pride of place on his dressing table.”