VICTIMS of a mining disaster have been commemorated with the dedication of a new stained-glass window in a Risca church.

The window at St Mary’s Parish Church pays tribute to more than 140 miners who lost their lives in an underground explosion at Risca’s Black Vein Colliery on December 1, 1860.

Many of the victims were buried in a small graveyard above the town, but over time the gravestones have become difficult to locate and read.

With an inscription of the disaster’s name and date, the new stained-glass memorial will serve as a more permanent tribute to the miners who died.

The Bishop of Monmouth, Richard Pain, attended a dedication service for the window at the church.

“This memorial is important so that we can remind ourselves that communities are built up on the work, and sometimes the sacrifice, of those in the past as well as in the present,” he said.

“In a time of transition in community identity, it is important for Risca to know its roots and to give thanks for those who have contributed to its community.”

The window also features symbols and items of mining life, including a safety lamp, a miner with his pit pony, and tools commonly used underground.

A candle represents the probable cause of the 1860 explosion, which was one of several fatal accidents at Black Vein Colliery involving flammable gases. They earned the Risca mine the nickname ‘death pit’.

Photographer Simon Kear, who documented the dedication service, said je believes the memorial window will have a special meaning for many in the community.

“There are a lot of people in Risca who had family members working in the mines,” he said.

“The miners would have been working twelve to sixteen hours a day. The coal was there but the safety wasn’t.

“That’s the story being told on the new window”.