You've heard of the Gresford disaster,
Of the terrible price that was paid,
Two hundred and forty-two colliers were lost,
And three men of a rescue brigade.
It occurred in the month of September;
At three in the morning the pit
Was racked by a violent explosion
In the Dennis where gas lay so thick.
Now the gas in the Dennis deep section
Was heaped there like snow in a drift,
And many a man had to leave the coal-face
Before he had worked out his shift.
Now a fortnight before the explosion,
To the shotfirer Tomlinson cried,
"If you fire that shot we'll be all blown to hell",
And no-one can say that he lied.
Now the fireman's reports they are missing,
The records of forty-two days;
The collier manager had them destroyed,
To cover his criminal ways.
Down there in the dark they are lying,
They died for nine shillings a day.
They have worked out their shift and now they must lie
In the darkness until Judgement Day,
Now the Lord Mayor of London's collecting,
To help out our children and wives;
The owners have sent some white lilies
To pay for the poor colliers' lives.
Farewell all our dear wives and children,
Farewell all our comrades as well;
Don't send your sons down the dark dreary pit,
They'll be doomed like the sinners in hell.
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Source: Palmer, Roy, Povery Knock, 1974, Cambridge University Press
Sung by Mrs A Cosgrove, Newtongrange, Midlothian. Roy Palmer identifies the collector as Peter Kennedy; however the Roud Index gives Alan Lomax.
Roy Palmer wrote:
The Gresford disaster occurred on Friday 22 September 1934. In fact, 265 miners were killed, including three rescue men. Gresford is in Denbighshire, near Wrexham. A commemorative service is still held there every year. The Gresford Colliery was finally closed in November, 1973.
Roud: 3089 (Search Roud index at VWML)