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Gresford Colliery Wrexham - Denbighshire - 22nd September, 1934

Those Who Died
Page 14 - The Rescue Men Were Invited To London As Guests Of Messrs. Siebe Gorman

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Now I have given the report of the disaster and the recovery of the Colliery I feel I must pay a compliment to the manufacturers of the equipment which made it possible for such wok to be undertaken and the efficiency of the 'Proto' apparatus made by Messrs. Sibe Gorman of London speaks volumes for itself. Not once during the operations did the apparatus fail to function. Had it done so, there must have been further casualties; confidence in this equipment was born in each worker of the teams and nothing occurred which caused him to loose that confidence. The whole of the Rescue Men who took part in the operations of recovery were after the work was completed invited to London as guests of Messrs. Siebe Gorman and made up into two parties, 50 in all. Special saloons provided and arriving at Paddington Station we were met by Mr. Buswell, Siebe Gorman's representative and were conveyed by a private bus to our Hotel 'The Melbourne'.

After a good lunch we had a stroll round and went to the Holborn Empire at night.

The following day (Saturday) we were again met by Mr. Buswell at 10am. After a real good hearty breakfast a round of the principle places of London were made, Horse Guards Parade and Whitehall included. At the arranged time we were conveyed to the 'Proto' works where we received a real fine reception from Sir R. Thomas the Chairman of the Directors of Messrs. Siebe Gorman together with three of his sons who work for the firm. Here was a real Royal lunch prepared and after this visit of inspection through the various departments of the works. I had always, during the connection of the Rescue Work, thought I was thoroughly convergent with all parts of the apparatus, but when I saw the various parts being made I had to admit that my knowledge was very scant indeed.

One of the interesting features was the fact that four of our party donned a diving suit and went into a tank of water 80 ft. deep and about 20 ft in diameter. A glass tank where you could see the men going down under the supervision, of course, of two experienced divers. That in itself was worth the journey to London and later Mr. Buswell himself an experienced diver gave an exhibition with the diving suit and one that was thoroughly enjoyed by all of us. Back to more refreshment both liquid and solid anything one requires just call for it. Right royally did Messrs. Siebe Gorman treat those Rescue Men who had pinned their faith in the apparatus at Gresford. Afterwards we took leave of Sir R. Thomas and his employees and a future round of sightseeing at Hampton Court and many other places, and then the Palladium at the evening and after the show the bus was still there to convey us to the station for the homeward journey.

To give all the details of the trip to London would be telling tales out of school and I don't intend to do that but can place it on record that this treat was appreciated by all the Rescue Men and would point out to the fact that from leaving Wrexham to arriving back again there was no necessity for any member of the party to spend a penny piece of his own money. To Messrs. Siebe Gorman their employees and particularly Mr. Buswell we tender our sincere thanks and assure then we shall always cherish the group photograph and beautiful little disc which was presented to each member.

A True Christian Spirit Which Will Be Remembered By Us To Our Dying Day

Previous to our trip to London, we had been the guests of the Welsh Football Association at the International match played at Wrexham between Ireland and Wales. We went to Wynnstay Hotel, Wrexham. The Doctor of the Ministry of Mines who had been with us during the recovery operations and of whom I have often referred, together with the Mines Inspector from Doncaster invited us to Dinner and afterwards a night at the Majestic in Wrexham. Didn't we enjoy that dinner in Wrexham and we shall always look back to those times with our 'Doc' as some of the brightest moments of our really drab job and monotonous life at that time. For that period Rescue Men were film stars and all the Picture Houses, even in London and Manchester were screening pictures of the Rescue Men going to and from the pit cage.

Before I conclude, let me here, say a word or two of praise for those volunteers who directly after the first explosion, worked hard and continuously until the time all men were withdrawn. They were at work all Saturday night clearing falls of roof, carrying thousands of fire extinguishers, drinking water, coffee and sandwiches anything and everything. There were 200 of these men down on Sunday midday. Some of them had been down all Saturday night and they would not give in probably they would have been down all Sunday till Monday morning had the men withdrawn. Working in all kinds of dangerous places where falls of roof had occurred sometimes in terrific heat. They worked ungrudgingly. No thought of pay, their only though being to get their comrades out of it as soon as possible. Officials were there whose names have never been mentioned. Llay Main officials, Manager, Undermanager, Overmen and Deputies who all stood the strain from Saturday morning unit the end. Gresford Officials of course were always on the spot. It is no fault for these people or for the need of help that the bodies are still down the pit.

Those cars owners also are to be thanked, as each black face came up the pit on that Sunday there was always a free fight, who of those car owners should have the privilege of taking you home in his car. That was the kind of spirit which seemed to emit from all those people. A true Christian spirit which will be remembered by us to our dying day. We may all be in normal life, in classes apart, but in times of need such as this, even the highest comes down to the low level of their poorer more unfortunate brothers. Thank God this is the true spirit of British on all occasions of this description.

The generous response of the Country to the appeal makes the same spirit more manifest. Nearly half a million pounds subscribed. Rich and poor, both to the same extent doing what was possible to generosity and we are indebted for life to those subscribers."