Six Bells Colliery Explosion

28/06/1960 - Six Bells Colliery / Gas Explosion, Coal Dust Explosion

On 28 June 1960, at approximately 10:45, an explosion took place in the West District of the Old Coal Seam, caused by an ignition of methane. Coal-dust in the air ignited and the explosion spread almost throughout the district. Killing 45 out of the 48 men who worked in that district of the mine, the tragedy would have been even worse had it not been for maintenance work was being carried out on the O.10 face where otherwise 125 men would have been working.

Lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide gas were found to be present. This suggested that the men lost consciousness rapidly and that death occurred within minutes. An inquiry into the disaster took place, at No 2 Court of Newport Civic Centre , between 19 and 28 September 1960. The Inspector of Mines reported that the probable cause of the explosion was firedamp ignited by a spark from a stone falling onto a steel girder.

This accident claimed the lives of 45 people.


I recommend that:

(I) The Working Party of the Sarety and Health Committee of the Coal Industry National Consultative Council which is to review the general problem of coal dust explosion hazards should consider as a matter of urgency, what additional precautionary measures could be taken on lengths of conveyor roadways nearest the face and most likely to be affected by a firedamp explosion.

(2) The potential danger of firedamp ignition associated with the fall of certain kinds of rock should be recognised by managements as an additional reason for perfecting measures designed to prevent falls at roadheads and for the maintenance at all times of effective ventilation of roof rippings. cavities and waste edges.

(3) The ventilation engineering service of the National Coal Board should provide managers with the greatest possible specialist advice and assistance on firedamp drainage by boreholes and on all aspects of ventilation.

(4) The National Coal Board's efforts designed to provide deputies with the best means of examining for firedamp in places out of easy reach should. if possible. be intensified.

(5) All persons engaged in shotfiring should bear in mind that the safe performance of their duties demands meticulous care and managements should lose no opportunity of satisfying themselves that it is being exercised. Ttbe nature and form of stemming material best suited to general use and least likely to lead to malpractice should be investigated. Trials of (oam injection into ripping shotholes should be encouraged. A wider use of explosives specialists couJd have many advantages.

(6) Mining engineers of the National Coal Board and other interested parties in South Wales should give fresh consideration to ways and means of reducing lhe incidence of large cavities on road heads and of dealing safely with any which occur.

(7) The Ministry of Power should review with interested parties the use below ground of air ejectors.