Social Science Learning Portal


Aberfam Disaster

Aberfan Disaster

In the third season of The Crown, the Aberfan Disaster--in which 116 children and 28 adults were killed in 1966-- is told from the perspective of Queen Elizabeth II. Several recent articles have pointed out that very few outside of the UK have an awareness of this horrendous historical event. This was certainly the case with me; unless you'd had a course in 20th century British history, or had lived through thru that decade as an adult, it's easy to see why it is one of those authentic pieces of history that nobody has ever heard of.

Significance? First, it raised at the time environmental concerns about living too close to industrial zones, from a safety perspective, as well as attention paid to negative health effects caused by water pollution. Second, the disaster exposed the corrupting effect of corporate greed, and how government oversight must play a role in arbitrating the interests of the industry with that of the people. In the Aberfan case, multiple missteps by the regulatory agency overseeing the Coal Industry