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Men Who Drowned Dolgarrog, The

  • £9.50
  • £0.00
  • Men Who Drowned Dolgarrog,
  • The ISBN: 9781845242862
  • John Lawson-Reay
  • Publication November 2018
  • Format: Paperback, 215x138 mm, 164 pages
This is the story of the 1925 Dolgarrog Dam Disaster. In 1907 the Aluminium Corporation Ltd decided to pitch their tents by the sleepy hamlet of Porth Llwyd in the Conwy Valley. The book also covers the history of the Aluminium Corporation which opened when the mines and quarries were closing and offered secure, well paid employment for a hundred years until its closure in 2007.

It is late on Monday evening on November 2nd 1925 in the small hamlet of Dolgarrog, nestling below the Carneddau Mountains in Snowdonia. Most of the villagers are relaxing in their homes having eaten supper, others are watching a film in the Assembly Rooms on higher ground. They are among the lucky ones.

The villagers are alerted by a low rumbling noise from above. They realise they are directly in the path of an engulfing tide of water from the two dams above the village owned by the Aluminium Corporation. Many manage to make it to higher ground; sixteen people are not so fortunate.

The disaster was caused by the failure of the Eigiau Dam. The water in turn gushed down into Coedty Reservoir directly below, causing its earth-bank dam to burst, thereby releasing billions of gallons of water to cascade through the village below. Among the dead adults were two sisters, Bessie and Ceridwen Evans, one of whom was still floating on a mattress. Another who drowned was Harold Victor Williams, aged 30. He was buried the following Saturday, the day he was to be married. SIx children lost their lives.

For decades, the disaster was considered to have been an unfortunate accident, an Act of God. It was nothing of the kind. The subsequent inquiries whitewashed the authors of the disaster. Even the inquests were staged in order to hide the facts. Now, almost a century later, the truth is exposed by an investigating author who had been haunted by the disaster since his childhood days. His meticulous detective work lays bare the uncomfortable truth.

The author describes the disaster as professional incompetence, criminal neglect and corporate cover-up by Y Bobl Fawr (The Big People). He identifies the two chief villains as Ralph Freeman, the civil engineer who designed the dams, and Henry Joseph Jack (Harry Jack), General Manager and Company Secretary of the owners, who were also responsible for maintaining the dams.

In Wales we have a sad history of being betrayed by the aftermaths of disasters. Think Senghennydd. Think Aber-fan. And although the loss of lives at Dolgarrog pales beside those two catastrophes, sixteen deaths in such a small community were sixteen deaths too many. Reading this book has left me with a feeling of anger over the fact that Y Bobl Fawr are everywhere, still with us. And still getting away with it.

Lyn Ebenezer