The Llanbradach Colliery and ‘The Evil Omen’
The Llanbadrach coalmine was sunk in 1893 and opened in 1895 by Cardiff Collieries Limited employing 796 men. By 1913 it was one of the largest pits in South Wales employing 2,832 men. The coal mine was closed down in 1961.
One day in September 1901, the miners were worried to see that a Robin (Erithacus rubecula) had constructed a nest in the underground pump room, since it was general belief in the South Wales mining community that finding a wild bird underground was a warning of disaster. Shortly after the discovery of the Robin, there was an explosion in the mine where a pocket of gas was ignited by shot firing. This then reacted with coal dust in the air causing a serious blast that killed 8 miners.
Previously, in the May of 1901, 82 miners had been killed in an explosion at the Senghenydd Colliery shortly after a Robin had been found living underground.
A bird was reported to have been found underground at the Morfa Colliery close to Port Talbot in early March 1890. The horrified local community held Midnight meetings to decide on the next course of action, but unfortunately there was a pit explosion on the 10th March that killed 86 miners.