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Morfa Mines

Morfa Mines - The Pit of Ghosts


 Haunted Location

Ghostwatch Europe
Views: 914
Report by: Ghostwatch
"Reports of strange happenings and ghostly sightings were commonplace at the Morfa mine."
Report ID: 336

Morfa Mines - The Pit of Ghosts

Morfa Colliery opened in 1849 and suffered several disasters during it's time. In 1890 one of the worst mining disasters to occur in Wales during the Victorian era was in the Morfa mines where eighty-nine people lost their lives in an explosion. But this wasn’t the first time that tragedy had struck the ill-fated Port Talbot colliery.

A series of explosions saw four men lose their lives in 1858, a further forty in 1863, and twenty-nine in 1870. The coalmine became ominously known as ‘The Pit of Ghosts’.

In its day Morfa mine was the largest colliery in the South Wales Coalfield, producing 190,000 tons of coal in the year 1863, it also appears to have been the most superstitious mine in the South Wales Coalfield.

In the weeks prior to an explosion in 1863 in which 40 miners lost their lives the eerie incidences became more frequent. Superstition was rife among the workforce and it was commonly believed that these supernatural events were harbingers of disaster. After the explosion these strange events occurred less often, except for one particular apparition of a dog, which would appear out of nowhere and then mysteriously vanish into thin air, they called this phenomenon "The red dog of Morfa".

The Morfa mine became known throughout the coalfield as the pit of ghosts.

An unusual explosion occurred here on the 14th of February 1870. Work on deepening the shaft was in operation, when a quantity of blasting powder accidentally got ignited, killing 29 men.

On the 10th of March 1890 another explosion occurred at this colliery this time claiming the lives of 89 men and boys, including one of the rescuers.

It was at the beginning of the morning shift with a workforce of 250 men and boys underground when the blast ripped through the labyrinth of mine workings.

Some 100 or so survivors managed to walk to pit bottom unaided and these were quickly brought to the surface.

The search for other survivors was blocked by a large roof fall in one of the main headings. Work to clear this fall was still going on the following morning when to the amazement of the rescue team five young boys clambered through a small opening over the top of the fall. They described the harrowing experiences they had encountered while making their way to safety including having to climb over badly mutilated bodies of their workmates.

After the fall was cleared the rescuers were able to make slow progress further into the mines workings clearing other roof falls and debris but recovering only dead bodies. It took another twelve hours before they reached the area where the explosion occurred. It seemed very unlikely that any more survivors would be found, when astonishingly they discovered John Franks, although injured but suffering from the effects of afterdamp had somehow survived the explosion.

On the Wednesday with the rescuers still clearing and searching the many headings and stalls, a fire broke out in one part of the mine, this made their already hazardous task much more difficult. In the smoke and confusion some of the rescuers became detach from the main party and they got lost in the maze of roadways. The following morning all but one of the missing rescuers were found alive and unharmed, but they had difficulty in reaching one man named Brownsell and it was some time before he could be rescued. He had been overcome by the effects of smoke and afterdamp, which has rendered him unconscious; he died soon after being brought to the surface.

It wasn't until a week after the explosion that all 89 bodies were recovered.

The under-manager a man named Barvass had been badly injured in the previous explosion of 1863 and he also survived several other minor blasts. Alas this time he wasn't so fortunate and he was numbered among the dead.

At the inquest some witnesses spoke of hearing unearthly voices just before the explosion occurred and there were many reports of a strong smell of roses that had permeated throughout the workings.

The jury returned the verdict that the explosion was caused by shot firing igniting a body of gas.

However because of the collieries supernatural reputation others were keen to believe in a more paranormal explanation. Morfa mine was eventually closed down in 1913. Today the ghosts of Morfa and the mine itself are buried under the vast sprawl of the Steel Works at Margam.

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