Newport – The Green Meadow Burial Ground – Myth, Mystery and Renewal

Our August talk was given by Stephen Lyons.

Although the original title was ‘The Black Vein Disaster’ and about the coal mine disaster at Waunfawr, Risca on December 1st, 1860 the talk in fact was a forensic examination of the reporting of a disaster and how history is so easily misinterpreted and misrepresented. It used facts and reports to show how myths are formed and misinformation is assumed to be correct. The talk put the record straight and recounted how the Green Meadow Burial Ground has been rediscovered and cared for.

The Blackvein colliery opened in the early 1840s and then for the next twenty years it suffered regular accidents leading to fatalaties due to lax security. However the infamous disaster in 1860 was on a much greater scale. It is thought that 142 (or maybe 146) died. The speaker showed how this is uncertain as subsequent news reports varied tremendously on the number of dead and even the names of the victims. Furthermore men who died from their injuries after the disaster may not have been included in the total.

A plot was donated by Lord Tredegar for the burial of the dead but many preferred to take the bodies back to their homes (which for many was to Somerset). The memorial stone at the Green Meadow site adds to the confusion by stating that fifty out of 142 were buried there (which is definitely incorrect). Unfortunately the site was allowed to go into decay until our speaker led a group trying to renovate it.

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