Women linked to mining disaster – a hundred year old mystery…

  • Can you help identify these women, photographed as they waited for news following the Ralph Mine Disaster of September 12,1914? (Source: Supplied)
    Can you help identify these women, photographed as they waited for news following the Ralph Mine Disaster of September 12,1914? – Source: Supplied

Forty-three men died in the Ralph Mine Disaster in Huntly in 1914 and now, 100 years on, organisers of centenary commemorations are trying to solve a missing link in the story.

An explosion at Ralph’s mine on Raynor Road rocked Huntly at 7.20am on Saturday September 12, 1914 and it remains New Zealand’s second worst mine disaster.

One of the organisers of the centenary commemorations, Jean Beverland, says they have two photos of women “obviously waiting to hear of news of their families” following the explosion.

“We have no idea who they are,” Ms Beverland said in an email to ONE News.

She wants to know if anyone can identify the women in the photos.

“It would be marvelous if we could identify even just one of them.”

Ms Beverland says both the photo’s were printed in newspapers at the time.

“We hope that someone has cut them out and they are part of the family memoirs.”

Historical accounts of the disaster say as it was a Saturday, only 60 men were at work in the mine instead of the usual shift of 250.

The explosion was caused by a miner’s naked acetylene cap-lamp igniting methane gas given off by coal, NZ History records .

A commission of inquiry found that the coal dust in the mine was highly inflammable and ordered the immediate introduction of safety lamps, NZ History records. Five men had been killed in 1890 when Ralph’s mine caved in and was flooded, the website noted.

The Pike River Mine Disaster of November 2010, in which 29 men died is New Zealand’s worst mining disaster since the Ralph Mine Disaster killed 43. Sixty-five died in the Brunner Mine Disaster of 1896, which ranks as the country’s worst mine disaster.

The Commemorations for the Centenary of the Ralph Mine Disaster will be held on September 13.

If you can help identify the women in the photos, email Jean Beverland atwribev@clear.net.nz

http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/women-linked-mining-disaster-100-year-old-mystery-5970721

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