Risca mine disaster marked by film
A MINING disaster which claimed more than 140 lives has been commemorated in a student film.
The film, by Coleg Gwent students in Cross Keys, recaptures the Black Vein Colliery pit disaster of December 1, 1860, in which between 142 and 146 men and boys died.
The students have pledged to raise money through raffles and cake sales to fund a plaque, bench and an area of wildflowers at the site of the Risca mine explosion.
In 2010, a tombstone was uncovered near the Risca colliery but by 2012 had become overgrown, inspiring the students to make their film.
The piece entitled 'Black Vein Memorial' was the combined efforts of 30 Independent Living Skills students, age 16 to 25, who took responsibility for acting, filming, lighting, music and editing.
A public screening is scheduled to take place on October 8 at Cross Keys Methodist Church at 7pm. A shortened version of the film will be uploaded to YouTube afterwards.
One of the students Abby Wiegold, 17, from Caerphilly, said: “Working on the film was a great experience. I didn’t know much about the Black Vein disaster, so researching for the film really opened my eyes to how life was down the mines for people who were a similar age to me.
"I narrated part of the film which was great for my confidence."
Chris Evans, MP for Islwyn, paid a visit to the campus to watch the film and presented a cheque for £75 to help the cause.
Victoria English, an Independent Living Skills tutor at Coleg Gwent said: “The Black Vein disaster was a hugely tragic chapter in our local history but unfortunately not an event many people know a lot about .
"When the students learnt of the disaster and all the young men and boys who lost their lives when the pit exploded, they were inspired to give the miners the recognition they deserved, and create an area in which people can pay their respects."
A painting of Risca Colliery by Osi Rhys Osmond was recently unveiled in Risca Palace, having been donated by Dr John Herbert, Mrs Sidonie Herbert and the wider Herbert family.
200 lives lost in disaster
The Risca Black Vein Colliery was established in around 1841 after the acquisition of Waun Fawr Colliery by John Russell. An estimated 200 lives were lost in its early years as a result of industrial accidents and disasters. The Black Vein Colliery system closed in 1921.