Llandarcy and Aberfan

Our thanks go to D H Price, Howard, for drawing our attention to the role played by the Llandarcy Refinery in the wake of the Aberfan disaster in South Wales on 21 October 1966.

Howard writes: ‘Although there is no longer a BP oil refinery in South Wales, some episodes in its 70 year history are worthy of record. One of these is an episode which occurred on the 21 October 1966. That day, some 261 children attended Primary School at a small town named Aberfan near Merthyr Tydfil in the Taff Valley. By mid morning 116 of them lay buried beneath a massive slagheap rendered unstable due to incessant rain. Throughout that morning, speculation was rife in the refinery on account of the constant stream of traffic comprising ambulances, police cars and trucks wending their way north on the nearby motorway. By lunchtime, word was percolating through at the catastrophic nature and extent of what had occurred some 20 miles north of us.

‘Very late in the afternoon, a request came from Glamorgan Constabulary for the provision of lubricating oil to service earth moving equipment in constant use at the school site. Management detailed a representative to visit the Barrelling Plant and instigate the loading. His arrival was met by a body of men about to leave for home. However, the moment Aberfan was mentioned, to a man, they began to take off their jackets and return belongings to the lockers. Shortly afterwards, a vehicle arrived under police escort. It was quickly loaded and sent on its way.

‘Late that night, with rain still falling, a call came for the provision of heavy weather clothing and footwear. Apparently, many of the rescue workers were miners from local collieries who had immediately gone to the school to provide assistance and a number were inadequately clothed. A generous supply was made available with local police carrying out the delivery.

‘While this was happening, the whole country witnessed via television, the full horror of what had transpired that morning. In comparison with the efforts made by those searching through the night for survivors, Llandarcy’s contribution would appear to be miniscule. However, there is some consolation in the knowledge that those called upon, did, without question, meet their obligations. It is at times like these that people discover who and what they really are.’

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