Aberfan After Forty Years
Iain McLean was the Project Director for research into the Aberfan Diaster. The work was funded by the British Academy and the ESRC.
The 40th anniversary of the tragic Aberfan disaster attracted extensive media comment, with four TV documentaries and numerous print media mentions. On 21 October 1966, 144 people were killed at Aberfan, a mining village near Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, when a tip of colliery waste slid down the mountain and engulfed a school and houses. 109 of the victims were children in the school, and a further five were their teachers.
Throughout October 2006, Iain has dealt with a flood of media inquiries. He was a consultant in all four documentaries and appeared in two of them. A good deal of the work consisted of persuading media outlets to handle the story sensitively. The media were asked to stay away from the two services held in Aberfan on October 21st 2006 and on the whole they complied.
There is unfinished business at Aberfan, described in Iain`s latest working paper at http://www.nuffield.ox.ac.uk/Politics/papers/2006/mclean4.pdf. In particular, the amount handed back by Ron Davies, although very welcome, was only about a tenth of the value (allowing for inflation and interest forgone) of the money unlawfully taken in 1968. Iain plans to join other campaigners for the restoration of this money to the Memorial Fund to provide an endowment for the upkeep of the Aberfan cemetery and the memorial garden on the site of Pantglas Junior School.