Friday, 1 September 2023 marked 100 years since the 1923 Hetton Coal Company Ltd Bellbird Mine Disaster (disaster) that resulted in the death of 21 miners.
This disaster was the catalyst for the Bill to establish a mines rescue service which was tabled in the NSW Parliament in 1924 and became the Mines Rescue Act 1925. The first NSW Mines Rescue station was established at Abermain in 1926.
Coal Services (Mines Rescue) and the Mining and Energy Union (MEU), together with the Coalfields Local Historical Association, commemorated the disaster’s centenary at the Bellbird Miners Memorial Park. The event was attended by local, state and federal member of Parliament, family members of the miners who lost their lives, local school students, community members and representatives from the three host organisations.
“This catastrophic disaster marks a significant moment in the history of Mines Rescue as the catalyst for the Mines Rescue Act 1925 and the opening of our first Mines Rescue Station in 1926. We pay tribute to the lives of the men who were tragically killed and reflect on the impact and influence that Mines Rescue has had on safety and emergency response in the mining industry since the disaster,” said Mines Rescue General Manager, Mr Alaster Wylie.
“Bellbird remains the worst mining disaster in our Northern NSW coalfields. We gather to remember the enormous scar left on our community, to acknowledge the important changes that followed and recommit ourselves to continuous improvements in mine safety,” said MEU Northern Mining and NSW Energy District President Robin Williams.
“When the Bellbird Mine Disaster occurred in 1923 it had a huge impact on the future of mining across NSW and beyond. The devastation of this disaster was far reaching and is still felt to this very day by the mining community, and the families and friends of those 21 miners who lost their lives. Recognising the 100 years since this disaster occurred is an important step in ensuring our coalmining history is preserved and reflected upon by future generations,” said Coalfields Local Historical Association President, Lynette Hamer.
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