AN EYECATCHING memorial to the dead of one of Britain’s worst mining disasters – and to those it left widowed and fatherless – has been unveiled at the Newbridge Memo.

An untitled painting by Newbridge-born artist Roy Guy now dominates a main stairway landing at the building, the 10-year renovation of which is almost complete.

The work commemorates the 268 men and boys who died in an explosion and fire at the Prince of Wales Colliery in nearby Abercarn, on September 11, 1878.

Mr Guy also intends the work as a memorial to other miners who died at the pit earlier that month.

It features claustrophobic scenes of miners toiling underground, but its centrepiece is a grieving woman and children.

“The emphasis is on those who survived, as they were the ones who suffered in the weeks and months after the disaster,” he said, adding that around 340 children were left without fathers, and 150 women lost their husbands.

The painting, accompanied by a poem by local poet Grahame Davies was unveiled by Manic Street Preachers vocalist and guitarist James Dean Bradfield.

Howard Stone chairman of the trustees of the Newbridge Memo, said: “This was one of the most horrific episodes in coalmining.”