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Bringing history to life

Exemplar Award Winner- Winner Citizen Award 2012: Caerphilly County Borough Council

On the 14th October 1913, four hundred and thirty-nine miners and one rescuer died in the Senghenydd Colliery Explosion. Thirty of the colliers were below the age of eighteen, two hundred and five women were widowed, and five hundred and forty-two children were left fatherless.

In Spring 2012, the communities in the Aber Valley asked Caerphilly County Borough Council to create a website with a section devoted to the 1913 disaster to help them commemorate the centenary and support their campaign for a new memorial on the site of the mine.

The community hoped that, with the support of the National Assembly, this campaign would also provide the impetus for the establishment of a Welsh National Mining Memorial to honour the many, many thousands of individuals who perished keeping our industries running, our homes warm and our ships afloat.

The Council and Chief Executive were supportive, and meetings were held with representatives of the Aber Valley Heritage Group to find out what they wanted to see on their new website. Top of the list were photographs and documents not seen elsewhere or hidden in archives, including historic maps from various sources, aerial photographs from the National Assembly’s archive and underground plans from the Coal Authority.

The Council also wanted to create some original content and this is where the idea of matching the victims’ addresses to the LLPG emerged. While not technically ground-breaking, it was definitely innovative: nothing like it appeared to have been attempted before, and it was believed that the data would add real value to the website by illustrating historical data in a present day context.

How the project was carried out

Only six weeks were given to design, build and populate the website prior to the visit of the First Minister to the Aber Valley Community Centre to initiate the memorial project, so the first priority was static content which could be easily incorporated into the site as it was developed.

The names and addresses of the victims were listed in the official inquest and inquiry documents and were available in a digital but unstructured format. Using simple database tools, the addresses were tidied up and matched to the Council’s LLPG. Now equipped with the UPRN and map reference, it was possible to represent visually where the miners had lived at the time of the disaster. When the addresses had been plotted they were then used to create an interactive map that could be incorporated into the website.


The website was launched by the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, on 28th June 2012 and, for the first time, the community now has a website to help broadcast their story and publicise their memorial campaign.

Using the LLPG to map the homes of the victims has provided a focal point and drawn attention to the scale of the disaster. The striking impression is the density of distress: house after house, street after street, and, perhaps unexpected, was the distance some men travelled to work – some from as far away as Cardiff docklands.

The Aber Valley Heritage group have raised £100,000 for the memorial so far with the help of Caerphilly County Borough Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, local Community Councils and many individuals.

Key benefits

• created an interactive map for the community website showing the actual properties where the victims were living at the time of the disaster

• supported the community’s campaign to raise funds for a Welsh National Mining Memorial

• demonstrated a use of the LLPG beyond efficiency savings and for the general good of the community

• created a process for matching the LLPG to any historic property data

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