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The Nation's Reaction

The whole nation's attention turned to Gresford Colliery and the plight of its mining community. The press, for a change, presented the miners as heroes. The stories focused on the heroism of the rescue teams, the tragedy of the bereaved and the lucky miners who had swapped shifts. There was little speculation on what caused the disaster, let alone about who was to blame.

The Wrexham Leader published a series of supplements to honour the victims of the disaster. - © The Wrexham Leader

Messages of sympathy and donations came from all over Britain and from overseas. Over £566,546 was donated during an appeal aided by the press who kept Gresford in the public eye. A relief fund paid allowances to the dead miners' widows, children and dependents. The latter were expected to be grateful and to know their place.

Telegram from the miners of the Soviet Union - © Flintshire Record Office

I am sending you some comics which I wondered if you would distribute amongst some of the children whose fathers and brothers were killed in the mine.

Rachel Booth, letter to the Gresford Colliery Disaster Relief Fund

The Gresford miners who had survived were also in need. With the pit closed, they were all unemployed by the Monday morning. It would not be easy finding a job in economically depressed Wrexham.

The nation's response to the disaster varied from the political to the personal. Workers, trade unions, businesses, church congregations, schools, community groups and individuals sent in money and gifts in kind. Many people gave what little they had.

People awaiting news from below, Gresford Colliery, September 22nd-23rd 1934.

For many sympathy was tempered by anger at the reality of the miners' working lives. Anger was so strong that many people gave money directly to the miners' union as they feared otherwise it would never reach those in need.

It is only when a terrible accident like this occurs that people wake up to the fact that the worker pays all the time.

Violet Higgins, Willesden Labour Party Women's section

Anger was felt closer to home. The miners' families wanted answers and, most of all, they wanted the miners' bodies brought up from the Dennis section. They were to be disappointed twice over.