Port chiefs unveil plaques remembering worst peacetime disaster in Newport
3:12pm Friday 25th October 2013 in News
Unveiling of new fibreglass plaques on the memorial to the men who lost their lives in the Newport Dock Tench Disaster of 2nd July 1909. Bishop of Monmouth Richard Pain leads the memorial service. (1779356)
PORT authority bosses unveiled new plaques remembering workers who died building a lock in the worst peacetime disaster in Newport.
They gathered at St Woolos Cemetery to honour the 39 people who lost their lives after a trench collapsed during construction of the new South Lock at Newport Docks in 1909.
The workers were building the busy docks thereby helping to lay the foundations of Newport’s success story.
Three bronze plaques honouring the victims of the Newport Docks Disaster have been removed and replaced by fibreglass copies following an attempted theft at the cemetery in Bassaleg Road in 2011.
The Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Richard Pain, yesterday [October 25] led a service with dignitaries including Newport Cllr David Fouweather, the great grandson of an Argus paperboy who crawled into the trench in an attempt to save the workers.
Colin Crick, 68, the chairman of the Newport Harbour Commissioners port trust, said: “I’m delighted the monument has been restored to its original state.
“It was a tragic accident with significant loss of life in building a very important Newport dock.”
The trench collapsed on July 2, 1909, burying 46 workers, according to historical records.
High summer rainfall and saturation form the bed of the Ebbw river are thought to have contributed to the collapse.
Rescuers included paperboy Thomas "Toya" Lewis who was small enough to crawl into the trench.
He worked for two hours with a hammer and chisel in an attempt to free one of those trapped, who was released the next day.
King Edward VII awarded him the Albert Medal for Lifesaving in December 1909.
Cllr Fouweather said: “We are all very proud of what Toya did to save the life of that man and are pleased the Harbour Commissioners have taken the time to ensure there is a decent memorial of that disaster.”