Newport Dock Disaster 1909

Monty Dart has written this account of the Newport Dock Disaster using information from local newspapers and files held at the National Archives at Kew, London.  The accompanying film was made by her husband Tom Dart using unique photographs from their own collection and those supplied by Associated British Ports, Newport.

Newport in Monmouthshire has a history of maritime commerce dating back over 2000 years. In 1835 it was decided to move shipping from the overcrowded bank of the River Usk to a newly excavated dock, to be known as The Town Dock which opened in 1842.  Soon this became overcrowded and it was extended to provide greater wharfage.

It was not many years before this too showed limitations and a move was made to a new location to be known as the Alexandra Dock which was opened in 1875.  Following historical precedent it too was found to be inadequate and this dock was also extended. Mainly due to the dramatic increase in coal export it was decided, yet again, to expand the area of the dock, resulting in the South Quay. A new lock entrance, the second largest in the world at that time, was being worked upon in 1909. It was during the construction of the South Lock that one of the most tragic events in the history of Newport occurred.

In 1909, Newport in Monmouthshire – was a thriving merchant town.  With a brand new Transporter Bridge, designed to allow access to sailing ships, on their way to the docks.

Coal has claimed many lives in pit disasters all over Britain, in this instance the success of the coal industry inadvertently claimed the lives of men who had never entered a mine, they dug earth, not coal.  The coal being exported from the valleys of South Wales was a major factor behind the need for a larger dock.

On 2nd July 1909 a tragic accident occurred at Newport Docks.

Many of the words in this account are taken directly from contemporaneous reports, words spoken by men involved in the disaster, newspaper reports and comments made at the inquest.

At the turn of the century, Newport in Monmouthshire was considered to be one of the premiere maritime ports in the United Kingdom. Following the completion of the Alexandra Dock in 1914, at over 1,000 feet long and 100 feet wide it was the second largest lock entrance in the world.

It was during the construction of the South Lock that one of the most tragic events in the history of Newport occurred.

The story begins on a hot afternoon, the 2nd of July in 1909. Two gangs of men are working on a massive trench, the lock into the extension of Alexandra Dock.  Stone, sand and earth had been removed and the timbers had been put in place. The contractors, Easton Gibb and Son, acknowledged experts in this type of construction, intended to start concreting that day.

The trench, crossed by the old bed of the River Ebbw was 238 feet long. At the inquest it was said that the ground was ‘very dry, considering the nature of the location’. A dam of rough stone held back the waters of the river.

On the day of the tragedy, the trench was surrounded by cranes and railway wagons.  Some 90 men were gathering their working tools together and preparing to leave for the day.

The next shift would be going down when they cleared.  Three ladders provided access to the top, men had already started climbing. It was about 5 minutes before the end of the shift…….. 20 mins past 5.

This is the floor of the trench.  W C Cooper an engineer gave this account to the newspapers ‘We were going to start concreting tonight. Both sides of the trench were piled with solid timber from 13 to 14 inches thick and the cross timbering was all 11 to 12 inches in thickness. It looked as if nothing could move it. It was a perfect network of timber. As we sank the trench there was no sign of movement at all. It was examined daily by an engineer of the company. I was down at the bottom myself two days ago, when everything seemed to be quite safe’.

Yet before the end of his shift a man called Baker suddenly left the trench, refusing to drink his tea or collect his coat – in his own words ‘he felt a shiver’.

Witnesses said ‘It sounded like an explosion…a crash, and dust rose like smoke.  It was all over in a moment.’…..  ‘The timbers rose like a camel’s back and then folded like a concertina’……. ‘Men who were at the bottom were caught like rats in a trap.’….. Suddenly, there was a massive cracking, the timbers snapped like giant matchsticks
The whole length of the west trench had collapsed. Surrounding machinery was tossed into the jumble of timber and stone. Men who had already left the trench were pulled back in by the falling timbers. Those on the surface could only stand dumbstruck as the full implications of the disaster were revealed.

Mr Faris one of the engineers commented at the subsequent Inquest, ‘The timber seemed to move up in the middle, and the whole thing went with practically no warning at all. As soon as I saw the timber beginning to move I gave a shout of warning and a number of men climbed up the ladder and got out. I was standing by the side of the trench and was thrown down. I alerted the railway drivers to sound their whistles to summon help.

 The screech of the whistles was heard for miles; men from all over the Docks dropped tools and raced to the trench. The fateful sound was heard in the nearby homes and public houses.  Everyone knew what it meant, but no one could imagine the sight that confronted those who ran to the rescue.   Confused voices and shouts of fear seemed to come from nowhere……

Contractor’s wagons, heavy coal trucks, four or five steam travelling cranes and their boilers had been thrown into the trench.  The Docks ambulance raced to the scene and the local hospital was alerted.  The town police station at that time was situated in Pill, the sound of the whistles alerted the police, and Police Sgt Thomas took ten men with him, shortly followed by Inspector Perry and Head Constable Sinclair and Superintendent Brookes. The Dock police were already there.

Rescuers began to form gangs to try and reach the trapped men.  Many men offered their services but the call was for experienced timbermen, men familiar with trench work. Fire and water were the two great dangers that faced the rescuers.  Those cranes that had fallen into the trench had disgorged their burning coals and boiling water.

The first job was to ensure that no more coals fell into the trench and set the timbers alight.  Just one man, a young crane driver was visible in the debris of earth, cranes and wagons, he was pulled free already dead, the first of many of the victims.

‘The men are caged in the network of timber and some of them are probably still alive’…said one man

One dilemma facing the rescuers was that no one knew how many workers were trapped in the timbers. It was the end of shift, some men had already left the site, some had not come to work and some were itinerant workers, known only by their nicknames.  The managers of Easton Gibb were immediately on the scene with a list of men believed to be working that day.

Asked how many men were entombed Mr Faris said “We have had a roll call, but we cannot say with certainty how many men were down at the time of the accident. We believe there were about 50 men, and I think we have accounted for 26, but some of them might have left before the accident occurred. ” 

Dr Hamilton a local GP from Commercial Street was the first Doctor on the scene, followed by Dr’s Cook, Neville and Lloyd Davies. 

Dr Hamilton said ‘I was summoned by telephone. I hurried down to the site on a bicycle.  Men could be heard shouting, although they couldn’t be seen. It was found that 5 men were alive. I managed to climb down a short way. I gave restoratives to some of the men.  One man was trapped by the legs, I gave him brandy.

Everyone knew – victims and rescuers alike that the greatest danger came from the tide.  Newport has one of the highest tides in the world and it was coming in, its progress only held back by a temporary dam near the head of the cutting. A gang of men were detailed to strengthen this and extra pumps were called for.  By 7.30 that night only half the men had been accounted for.

As darkness fell on the night on July 2nd hundreds of townsfolk watched, as men wrestled with the jumble of timbers, under the light of scores of acetylene flares. Men’s voices could be heard coming from the trench………

A workman known only by his surname of Green was pulled from the wreckage, his face badly smashed and one arm pulped.  Between 11 o’clock and midnight, a 16 year old youth – Albert King was seen alive, held fast by a huge cross piece of timber on his arm.  He was passed a drink of brandy by Dr Hamilton and some cigarettes as he pleaded for his hand to be severed ‘I wouldn’t mind’ he is reported as saying…….’If I had a hatchet, I would cut it off’.  Suddenly the timbers shifted and he was lost from sight.

 A speaking tube was lowered for the trapped men to send messages to the surface.  Surgeons managed to amputate both legs of a man trapped by a timber, he was brought out but died shortly afterwards.

A rumour went around Newport – not only had the trench claimed the lives of the navvies and gangers, there had been another fall which had swallowed up 50 of the rescuers.  The South Wales Argus printed fliers assuring the public that this wasn’t the case.  The Merthyr Express reports ‘Pitiful scenes were witnessed around the dock late on Friday night, when the wives and families of the imprisoned men hopelessly watched the attempts at rescue.’

Patients at the Newport Hospital offered to give up their beds for the wounded, they would lie on the floor, they said.  People in houses close to the hospital offered extra bedding. The Reverend Henry Morgan, rector of Holy Trinity Church and the Reverend J. Meredith Jones, a Baptist Minister went to the hospital and then hurried to the Docks.
The rescuers, used to manual work laboured on furiously into the night, oblivious to their own exhaustion.   They could hear the cries of trapped men but timbers were tightly packed and inaccessible. A reporter wrote ‘down in the abyss the men were toiling away, with their soul in their muscles, shovels working laboriously, inch by inch’.
The bodies of two men, Sidney Anderson a crane driver of Wolseley Street and Ben Hathaway a labourer of Bristol were identified and carried to a railway truck and covered with sacking.   By 6 am, 6 bodies had been recovered and 7 men had been brought out alive, but all were dreadfully injured. Hope of saving men alive was dwindling. One man – the walking ganger, Thomas Ratcliffe was brought out alive, but with broken ribs. He was transferred to County Hospital, Panteg. Then a cry was heard from deep within the timbers.

One after another, men tried to gain access but the gap was too narrow. The dockers, used to manual work were far too well built to attempt the climb. ‘We must have a small man’ shouted a ganger. 

At this point Tom Toya Lewis, a spectator in the crowd, stepped forward and offered to go down.  He was a newspaper boy, whose father was a stevedore on the docks.  His Mother had died some years previously, leaving a young family.  Thomas helped his father to keep the family in food. he had his first hawkers licence at the age of 12. 
He was street wise and fearless.   Those in charge of the operations took stock.  They knew that Tom was their only chance of taking comfort to the doomed man…after much consideration, it was agreed.

Tom climbed through the timbers to a depth of 60 feet and for hours, sawing desperately at a beam, tried to free Fred Bardill.  He had managed to release one of his limbs. There was a groan and the timbers began to shift. The decision was made to pull Tom from the trench.  He emerged, cut and bloodied, into the arms of the rescuers, sobbing for the trapped man.  Thanks to Tom’s efforts, Fred was pulled free in the hours that followed, the last man to leave the trench alive.

Rescue operations continued and as the afternoon wore on, tidal water began to seep into the trench.  Fifteen men had been rescued alive but injured, 5 bodies had been recovered. In all 39 men died in the disaster, some crushed by the timbers but undoubtedly some were drowned when the tide seeped into the trench. On the following day, Sunday, the trench was full of water and with the approval of the Coroner, Mr William Lyndon Moore; work began immediately to fill it in. 

On Tuesday 6th July a statement was released by the contractor Easton Gibb ‘After hoping against hope that some of the men missing after the dock disaster would put in an appearance and claim their pay’ it was decided to issue an official list of the dead and missing. The mass memorial, at the site of the disaster was attended by over 2000 people.  It was conducted by the Reverend and Honourable R Grimston, Superintendent of the ‘Navvy Mission Church’ of England.

In the days following the tragedy, a telegram, bearing a message of sympathy came from Buckingham Palace, personally naming Tom as a hero. At the head of a great procession, Tom the hero of the Newport Dock Disaster rode a horse through the streets of Newport...

The inquest into the disaster opened at Newport Town Hall on July 6th.

The Coroner, Mr Lyndon Moore explained that the enquiry was extending beyond the range of an ordinary inquest because of specific instructions from the Home Office. Mr Lyndon Moore said he could not let the occasion pass without referring to the splendid heroic efforts of those who participated in the rescue work. 

Nothing seems to have been left undone to minimise the loss of life and prevent further disaster. He paid tribute to the presence of mind of Mr Faris, engineer, in giving immediate warning to those near him, which enabled some workmen to escape. He mentioned the medical men for their devotion of duty through the long night.  ‘As for the newspaper boy Lewis’, he said ‘he had won for himself a reputation for courage and resourcefulness which should stand him in good stead hereafter’.  

At the inquest, John Ward M.P represented the Navvies Union. Witnesses included James Playforth, ganger, and John Andrews, navvy. Andrews said that on two separate occasions, navvies had vacated the trench owning to dangerous conditions and when asked by the Coroner, had he mentioned this to officials he said ‘It would be useless; I would have had my travelling ticket’.  In summing up, Lyndon Moore said ‘the collapse was deemed due to sudden, unforeseen movement of the surrounding earth, trench work was dangerous but what could be done was done’.

The rescuers were publicly thanked and subsequently some received medals for their brave work.  Dr Hamilton who was awarded the Arnott medal for his act of heroism.  This medal can be seen in Newport Museum. However, this isn’t the end of the story; a report was commissioned by the Secretary of State.

It was noted that rainfall had been very high in the period leading up to the disaster and that this might have been a contributing factor.

Observations were made – a man known as Pinwire said that a pile was moving in the morning, Playforth also saw a timber moving. Ratcliffe, the walking ganger was made a scapegoat, and in the report the responsibility of the trench that day fell under his jurisdiction.  However, despite his fortunate escape, he died before the end of the inquest as a result of pneumonia; he could not give evidence in his defence.

An impressive granite and bronze memorial can be found in Newport’s St Woolos Cemetery. A poem – called Soldiers of Industry was written by – W. J. Collins, (Dromio) Editor of the South Wales Argus and can be seen on the memorial. The names of the dead are poignant – some were known only by their surname recorded in the pay book.  Some were not from the Newport area but men looking for work as navvies and gangers, an itinerant population.

In December 1909 Tom was received at Buckingham Palace where the King accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Connaught bestowed on him the Albert Medal – the civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross.  [ View the medal ] Public subscription was raised by the people of Newport to provide Tom with an apprenticeship at the Easton Gibb’s company in Rosyth.

In December 1910, while work was underway to sink blocks of stone near the disaster area some 17 bodies were found and exhumed…. one was identified as the young lad King. It is believed that a further 16 still lie buried beneath the dock.

According to the South Wales Press, the navvy Pinwire (aka John Knight), working at the bottom of the trench was just about to light his pipe when the disaster occurred.. As the others ran for the ladders he remained perfectly still, in shock.  After about an hour, when he detected no more movement around him, he lit a match – he was still clutching them in his hand, took his bearings and worked his way upwards.  He recalls Dr Hamilton treating him and that he got a lift on a wagon to Cardiff Road at about 11 pm that night. 

He went to his lodgings in Jeddo Street but told the landlord that he was too afraid to stay in Newport.  He disappeared for a week and when he returned he didn’t know where he had been.  The thing that upset him most, he said to a fellow navvy was that he left 5 shillings in his coat pocket and it was still at the bottom of the trench.
At the very hour of the anniversary of the disaster, 100 years later, on 2nd July 2009,  Tom Lewis his grandson threw a wreath into the Dock in memory of those who died.  A road in the Dock area has been named in honour of his grandfather.

Accounts from the Inquest and the Newspapers

Osbourne, McCarthy, Aldridge, Bradford, Croggin, Willis, Andrews and Kinsella were all presented with the St John’s Ambulance Association bronze medal.

Dock Constable Minns, who was at the South Dock told a Western Mail reporter ‘I heard a low crashing noise 200 yards away and saw a cloud of dust rise in the air.  I ran across and assisted 5 men who had got out.  One man had both his thighs broken, another one with a broken thigh, one with a broken leg, another with a severe cut on his forehead, another with a big gash on the side of his head.  They could all speak.  Then a man was brought out, he was black in the face from strangulation. Dr Hamilton tried artificial respiration but without success.

A bewilderment of desolation and chaos

A newspaper man wrote ‘On my way to the scene I tried to conjure up a mental picture of the position from the meagre information contained in the earlier newspaper editions. Previous experience of catastrophes in big colliery and other workings assisted my imagination, but the gloomiest surmise fell far short of the actual scene as it presented itself at 10 pm, when I arrived after a weary tramp over the expanse of broken ground.  After the eye had become accustomed to the glare of the acetylene and naphtha lamps, after nearly an hours walk in the gloom, a spectacle presented itself which will remain a lasting memory.  Here, there and everywhere hundreds of men moved about in seemingly endless confusion but a few minutes survey showed that there was an orderliness in the rush.  Every man had his appointed duty, dictated by the officials, but the effect of the men’s labour appeared terribly puny, for the excavations, as they were before the collapse were very extensive.  Going as near as one dared to the edge of the declivity into the partly closed ‘trench’ – although that word……

‘I assisted in getting some bodies out, but we had to leave it because the timbers were cracking and closing in all the time.’

I was working on the New Lock Entrance when the trench collapsed’ said E Price one of Messrs Easton Gibbs gangers ‘ and ran at once to the spot  to see what assistance I could render .As an ambulance man, I soon found plenty to do and with Gobby, the storekeeper, who was our chief ambulance man, we attended to all the first cases.  We rendered first aid to Ratcliffe (head ganger) whom we found to have a severe cut on the head and something wrong with his ribs.  Ratcliffe was standing above the trench at the moment of the collapse but was pulled in.  He was struck on the head and chest.  Playforth (ganger) who was badly injured on the left side of his head and thigh; Myssop (ganger) who was badly crushed, and several men whose names I do not know.  Another man who had an arm and shoulder badly hurt was attended to.  We were joined by PC’s Minns and Moyles, and I assisted them to render first aid to John Brown who had a thigh broken. Along with Gobby, PC’s Minns and Moyles, I assisted Dr Hamilton to try artificial respiration to another man, but we were unsuccessful.  By this time a number of ambulance men had arrived, so I went to the trench at the north end.  I watched the ground and the timbers where the rescue party were working. We got out several men but when we came to a man named Bardill it appeared a hopeless case because when his arm was free we could not fix a rope around him, and we thought we should lose him as he might have fallen down further into the trench. At about this time a man named Knight crawled through a hole that had been cut, to get to another man.  After this party had worked for 16 hours, Bardill was released.  We had to cut off his boot before we could get him out.  I then hastened all round about, to hear if there was any sound of any other men alive, but could hear nothing.  I was working at the trench until about 10 o’clock on Saturday morning’. The accident happened at about 20 minutes to 5 on Friday.

The Western Mail reports ‘At the bottom of the trench there were men still alive and able to speak, but who were pinned beneath heavy baulks of timber.  A man was heard to say ‘My name is……..’ and then his voice died away, he was given stimulants by means of a bottle lowered down by rope.

Captain Parfitt, the Dock master experienced two near accidents.  Some twenty minutes before the disaster he had visited the trench with the Rev. Mr Evans of Carmarthenshire and the Rev. Mr Phillips, curate of St. Wollos Church. Newport, both of whom had expressed an interest in seeing the trench. When the fall-in occurred, he jumped on a locomotive to get to a telephone when another engine collided with it, nearly knocking him off.

Mr Goodenough (foreman carpenter for Easton Gibb and Son) took charge of the rescue party at the north end of the trench.  Three of the men – Andrews, Bradford and Croggan, who were working in his party, were awarded medals He also took charge of the boy Lewis during the time he was assisting in the trench. ‘After the collapse of the trench the ground was still moving from the north west and the heavy timbers, which were almost closed up, were still moving and creaking when the rescue party under my directions and instructions commenced work circuiting the heavy timbers to prevent them from closing right up. The moving ground threatened disaster to the whole of the rescue party and a crane had to be brought to the spot, and a gang put to work to remove the ground which was pressing on the timbers, whilst the rescue party was at work.  We worked in this dangerous place for about 16 hours on end, and we did not leave work until we were certain that all the men alive in the trench had been rescued.’

J. Townsend, ganger to Messers Easton Gibb and Son, says ‘I helped George Champion to sink a pit behind the collapsed trench where a man named Dounton was taken out. We got out two men before we got to Dounton.  We had to cut off two piles and draw three before we could get at him, and this was very risky work.  We worked there all night and next morning until doctors cut off Dounton’s legs.’

Herbert Gobby (chief storekeeper and chief of ambulance department in the employ of Messrs Easton Gibb and Son) told his story; ‘I was on duty at the Stores and about 5.20 pm I heard signals from the locos for assistance. I immediately ran down to the deep water entrance and there found that the outer trench had collapsed, covering gangs of men. I set to work at once to get all the ambulance materials and stretchers we could lay our hands on, also all the tools that were in the store. I then got T. Ratcliffe (foreman ganger) and together with E. Price did up his head and ribs and sent him away home.  By this time the rescuers had got out several men with various injuries – such as broken thighs, arms and legs. By the time Dr Hamilton arrived and we completed this lot, and having plenty of loose trucks, and assistance at hand they were taken to hospital with all speed in charge of R. Hawyes, W. Langmaid and G. Harding.

Charles Croggan, a carpenter in the employment of Messrs Gibb and Son, had very much little to say.  His experiences were very much the same as Andrews. ‘My first duty after the disaster was to make splints and temporary stretchers, he remarked ‘and after that I joined Jimmy the Rat and other men in the rescue party working at the north end of the trench. The timbers were moving badly, and threatened to close in on the top of us, but we managed to rescue several men alive.’

Anthony Kinsella was a crane driver ‘After the collapse of the trench, my first duty was to see that the fires were drawn from the boilers and cranes. It was very important as an explosion might have happened from the boilers bursting if the fires were not put out. The ground all around was slipping badly, but I managed to get to the crane and boilers, and got the steam off and the fires out.  I saw some men working away to clear the ground where a man was buried under the sand and a skip, and I saw that the best thing to do was to get on a crane which was close by and try to lift up the skip.

Arthur Davies, a labourer, Courtybella Terrace was in the trench ‘When I heard the piles creaking, I called to those working below.  They rushed up the ladder and in their anxiety to get free we climbing up both sides of the ladder and were treading on one another’s hands in the rush to freedom’  After that I saw no more, with a big noise the timbers gave way aground me. I jumped back to save myself and was struck by the skip of a crane.  One of my mates drew me clear.’

William Williams, driver of locomotive No.50 who lived at 8, Brunel Street said ‘I happened to be on my engine and we were working a load of trucks on the line which runs by the side of the job, when there was a loud noise and the ground began to give way.  I could see there was likely to be an accident, so I kept up a long whistle, as the signal for an accident is a continuous whistle. Then the ground under our rails began to give way and I steamed off as hard as I could to run the gauntlet. My stoker, Walter Bonds of Price Street, was on the engine with me and as we were running off, a telegraph pole fell on the engine, but it did not hurt us, and we ran to the office and came back with Mr Couper’.

One navvy said that he was working at the bottom of the trench with 40 or 50 men when they heard a cracking sound and without further warning the cross beams above them buckled up and the piles on both sides were forced in. ‘Those that ran for the ladders were the unlucky ones.’ he said ‘they were crushed when the sides came in’.

It was known that four men were alive up until 10.30 pm and when Albert Pullen of 8, Lime Street, a workman on the dock, groped hid way near them, one of the survivors shouted it was dark. ‘Give us a drink’ appealed another.  Pullen lowered a candle below ‘who are you’ he called out. Jim Brown and Nobby, give us something and we’ll dig ourselves out’. At that moment the timbers moved forward and Pullen was forced to jump clear. ‘

From 8.30 – 9.30 on Saturday morning the efforts of the rescuers were concentrated upon two men who were both under the debris, some 14 feet down, under one of the big cranes.

At a given signal the rescuers began to haul ropes, and the spectators were thrilled to see the head and shoulders of a man known as ‘Scan’ appeared above the debris.  ‘He was groaning pitifully and the pallor of his face was evidence, if such were needed, of the terrible experiences he had gone through in the last 15 hours’’, said the Western Mail reporter.  He was taken to an ambulance and then to the Newport Infirmary. At this stage the bodies of men killed were still to be seen in the debris, the rescuers concentrating on liberating those trapped but alive.  One man staring through the gaps in the timber identified the body of his brother.

The Western Mail recorded ‘Close on 10 o’clock one of the most ghastly features of the cataclysm came to notice.  It was known that the young lad Albert King was keeping a stout heart, but how to free him baffled them all.  The situation was desperate, as well as the solution.  It was resolved to amputate his arm at the elbow.  Dr Neville and Dr Hamilton came along with the necessary instruments to do the work.’ In another newspaper report, King was heard to say ‘If I had a hatchet I would cut it off myself’ then the timbers shifted and King disappeared from view.

Persons named in the enquiry and in the newspapers and their roles as described in same.

Note – owing to the confusion of the time, some names may be spelt incorrectly or duplicated. Many were only lodging in Newport at the time – with their wives and families remaining at home.

Aldridge, J W

Dock Gateman – accompanied men to hospital.

Anderson, Jas*

Named on memorial.

Anderson, Bert

Crane Driver – Newport – wife 2 children.

Anderson, Sidney

See Baden Sidney Powell.

Anderson, Sidney

Labourer, Wolseley Street – single.

Andrews, James

Timberman aka Jimmy the Rat.

Ash, Edwin

2, Mill Parade, aged 16 – sprained ankle.


On books as working in trench that day.

Bailey, John

Lodged 13 Commercial Road, ? came from Cork.

Baker, Mr

Trenchman. Left before accident – premonition.

Barry K A

Observer at the scene ? Engineer.

Bradford, G

Offered his experience, worked on Newport Tunnel.

Bardill, Fred

Trenchman. Tom Lewis released him from timbers.

Bonds, Walter

Stoker on locomotive  No.50.


Wolseley St.

Brain, John

Commercial Street .


On books as working in trench that day.

Brown Jim

On books as working in trench that day.


48, Blaina Street.

Brown, John

Labourer aged 19 – interview and photo .


On books as working in trench that day.


On books as working in trench that day.

Caddey, Wm*

See Kaddy – named on memorial.

Champion, George

Foreman timberman & rescuer.

Claridge, Wm*

Named on memorial.


On books as working in the trench that day.


On books as working in trench that day.

Cook Dr

GP – helped to amputate Dounton’s legs.

Cooper, Walter G

Chief Agent for Easton Gibb & Son.


Police Constable – saw body removed from trench.

Cox, William J*

Missing – single, 3 Fothergill St (from Swindon).

Crinks Dr

GP – helped to amputate Dounton’s legs.

Croggan, Charles


Couper JDC

Resident Engineer EG & Co.

Cox, William

Missing, 3 Fothergill St, Newport (Swindon).

Crutwell. Mr

For Newport Corporation.

Mr Carruthers



On books as working in trench that day.


On books as working in trench that day.

Davies, Alfred

9 Courtabella St, aged 22, cuts to head.

Davis, Fred

Injuries – 15 Castle Street.

Davison, Mr

Consulting Engineer for Easton Gibb and Son.

Day, Wm

Single – 46, Emlyn Street.


On books as working in trench that day.


See Downton – Emlyn Street.

Downton Wm*

Ganger – legs amputated in timbers.


Rescued – came from Bath – facial injuries.


Single – aka White (from Dorset).


On books as working in trench that day.

English, Oliver*

Missing –reported as married.

Evans, Rev

Carmarthen -Visiting works that day with Capt Parfitt.

Faris, R R

Sub-Agent for Easton Gibb & Son.

Fagan, J*

Named on memorial.

Fegan, Peter

Missing, aged 40 – 86, Commercial Rd (Dundalk).

Field, J*

Named on memorial.

Fishlock, John

Rescued – came from Bath.

Fletcher, Mr


French, Robert

103, Raglan St. aged 29 – both legs broken.

Forestier-Walker, Leoline

Director Alexandra Dock Co.


On books as working in trench that day.

Gardner, J

Navvies Union.

Gavin, P*

Named on memorial.

Gibb, Alexander

Partner in Easton Gibb and Son.

Gobby, Herbert

Chief ambulance man and storekeeper Easton Gibb.


On books as working in trench that day.

Goodenough, W

Foreman carpenter Easton Gibb.


On books as working in  trench that day.


Named on memorial.


Brought out alive, badly crushed arm.


On books as working in trench that day.


On books as working in trench that day.


Missing – 46, Emlyn St, Newport.

Harding, G

Arranged transport to hospital.


GP – Corporation Road.

Hathaway, Fred. F. M*

Crane Driver – wife & 2 children aged 26.

Hathaway, Herbert

Lodging at Risca – wife in Bristol (?same person as Fred Hathaway).

Hawyers, B

Arranged transport to hospital

Holder, Wm*

Named on memorial.

Hopkins T*

On books as working in trench that day – memorial.

Hornby, Mr H. S.

Solicitor representing Easton Gibb & Son.

Jeffreys, W H

Representing relatives of deceased Powell & Lockyer.

Jimmy the Rat

James Andrews – timberman.


On books as working in trench that day.

Jones, Bill

13 Commercial Rd, Cornishman, one eye.

Kaddey, William

27 Wolseley Street, married – missing.

King, Albert*

16,Banksman 4, Baldwin Street– T. King on memorial.

Kinsella, Anthony

Crane Driver.


Named on memorial.

Knight, John

Aka Pinwire – evidence at inquest – aged 60.


Arranged transport to hospital.

Legg, Mr

Outside Manager.

Leggy, J

7, Emlyn Terrace.


Named on memorial.

Lewis, Augustus

Chief Inspector of Factories – Home Office.


On books as working in trench that day – memorial.


On books as working in trench that day.

Lockyer, Henry*

Ganger – Killed age 40, from Witcombe – memorial.


On books as working in trench.

Lyndon Moore, William

Coroner – Newport.

Lyne, Horace

Representing Alexandra Dock Co.

Lyons, Mr

Crane Driver.

Macarthy, John

14 New St. aged 18 – sprained ankle.

Macarthy, J

13 Hill Street.

Macauley, John

Alexandra Docks Co General manager.

Markby, Mr

London Solicitor for Alexandra Doc Co.

McCarthy, Daniel*

Police Constable St John Ambulance Association.

Maclean Mr

Observer at scene ? engineer.


Dock Police Constable.

Moss, J*

Named on memorial.


Police Constable.


Named on memorial.

Musson, Albert

Ganger – 41 Clarence St – aged 38.


Ganger ‘arm crushed’.


Timbers closed in on him as rescue in vain.

Oldham, John

Missing – married, Portland Street.

Osbourne, G

St John’s Ambulance Association.

Paleford, James

2, Castle St – aged 50 – cuts to head.

Palford, J

Eee Paleford.

Parfitt, Captain

Observer at scene – on site until just before accident.

Parker, H*

Named on memorial.


On books as working in trench that day.


On books as working in trench that day.



Phillips, Rev

Curate St Woolos – visiting site with Capt Parfitt.


Aka John Knight ‘saw pile rising in the morning’.

Playforth, Mr

Trenchman. Noted signs of collapse.

Powell, Baden Sidney

Crane Driver – single 18 or 19 years aka Anderson.

Powell, S*

Named on memorial - ? Baden Sidney Powell.

Price, E

Ganger/Ambulanceman Easton Gibb.

Price, H

Brecon & Merthyr Railway.

Pullen, Albert

Rescuer – 8 Lime St. Newport.


Named on memorial see ? Edward Randle.

Randle, Edward

Missing – 26, Wolsely St. – single.

Ratcliffe, Samuel

Missing, married, 11, Emlyn St. Newport.

Ratcliff, Thomas

Walking Ganger.

Redcliff, J*

Named on memorial.

Riley, William

Labourer – died.

Roberts J*

Named on memorial.

Roberts, Mr

Crane Driver.




Rescued after 15 hours.

Shaw, John

12a Church St. witnessed disaster.

Snell, W*

Named on the memorial.


Named on memorial.


On books as working in trench that day.


Named on memorial.

Squire, W.W.


Sullivan, J*

Named on memorial ? John Sullivan.

Sullivan, John


Talbot *

On books as working in trench that day – memorial.


Timberman. Escaped by ladder – 9, Castle Street.

Townsend, J

Ganger ‘worked 16 hours to free men’.

Turner, A*

Named on memorial ? Albert Turner.

Turner, Albert

Missing, married, 100 Commercial Road.


Named on the memorial.

Ward, John

MP – appeared on behalf of the Navvies Union.


On books as working in trench that day.


On books as working in trench that day.


On books as working in trench that day.


On books as working in trench that day.


Aka Downdon.

White, Graham Cllr

Newport Mayor.


On books as working in trench that day.

Williams, A*

Named on memorial - ? A. Williams.

Williams, John

27 Wolsely St – single.

Williams, Mr

Trenchman. Escaped by ladder.

Williams, William

Locomotive (No.50) driver witnessed collapse.

Willis, Walter


Wilson, Mr

Trenchman. Escaped by ladder.