b. 15/01/1849 Dinas, Glamorgan. d. 27/01/1884 Naval Colliery, Penygraig, Glamorgan.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 11/04/1877 Tynewydd Colliery, Porth, South Wales.
Daniel was one of six children of Daniel and Margaret Thomas (nee Davies). The family lived in Graigddu Cottages, Dinas, and Daniel senior was a collier. Daniel junior followed his father down the mines, and following the Tynewydd Disaster he was also awarded medals by the Order of St John of Jerusalem and the Royal Humane Society. He married Sarah Ann Troyers (nee Hughes) who was widow, and became the proprietor of Brithwynydd Colliery after his father’s death in 1872 until 1875. Shortly after this Mr Thomas joined Mr Hugh Begg and others to sink for coal on Dinas Ishaf Farm, in the Ely Valley, Mr Begg being acting manager. Great success followed the enterprise, splendid coal being struck. Early in January, 1877, Mr Thomas engaged with his fellow-partners to work the last-named colliery, he undertaking to pay each of them a certain percentage on the gross income of coal. The colliery has continued to work successfully under these terms down to the time of his death, his manager being Mr Howell John, Williamstown, one of his early friends. The number of men employed there at the present time is about 200. In August, 1879, the coal in the Brithwynydd Drift became exhausted, and the place was given up. Previous to this, he, in conjunction with Mr James Thomas, had commenced sinking for steam coal at Ynyshir, the property of the Rev. D.W. Williams, M.A., Fairfield, and Mr Whitting, Weston-super-Mare. After coal had been struck Mr James Thomas paid Mr Daniel Thomas £18,000 for his share in the concern, and the last named retired.
After the disastrous explosion in the Dinas Steam Coal Collieries on the 13th of January, 1879, when so many poor fellows were entombed, it was for some time feared that, owing to the terrible nature of the falls which the explosion had caused in the workings, the colliery would have to be abandoned altogether. Several skilled managers endeavoured to restore things to something like order. But so little success crowned their efforts that only eight out of the 63 dead in the pit were brought out. Great sympathy was felt for the humane proprietor, Colonel Hunt, who, notwithstanding the great loss he had sustained by the explosion, incurred enormous outlay in endeavouring to recover the dead bodies of his poor workmen and opening the collieries. On the 1st May, 1881, Mr Daniel Thomas took the collieries under a lease from Col. Hunt.
Daniel was killed while attempting another rescue at the Naval Colliery, Penygraig on 27th January 1884.
On the llth of April, the Tynewydd Colliery, situated near Porth, in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales, was inundated with water from the old workings of the adjoining Cymmer Colliery. At the time of the inundation there were fourteen men in the pit, of whom four were unfortunately, drowned, and one killed by compressed air, leaving nine men imprisoned by the water: of this number four were released after eighteen hours’ imprisonment, and five after nine days’ imprisonment. It was in effecting the release of these latter five that those distinguished services were rendered which the conferring of the ” Albert Medal of the First Class ” is intended to recognize. The rescuing operations consisted in driving through the barrier of coal thirty-eight yards in length, which intervened between the imprisoned men and the rescuers, and kept back a large quantity of water and compressed air. This task was commenced on Monday, April the 16th, and was carried on until Thursday, April the 19th, without any great amount of danger being incurred by the rescuers ; but about one o’clock P.M. on that day, when only a few yards of barrier remained, the danger from an eruption of water, gas, and compressed air was so great as to cause the colliers to falter. It was at this juncture that the above mentioned four men volunteered to resume the rescuing operations, the danger of which had been greatly increased by an outburst of inflammable gas under great pressure, and in such quantities, as to extinguish the Davy lamps which were being used. The danger from gas continued at intervals until half-past three on the following morning, and from that time the above four men at great peril to their own lives continued the rescuing operations until three o’clock P.M., when the five imprisoned men were safely released.
BURIAL LOCATION: CYMMER INDEPENDENT CHAPEL, PORTH, GLAMORGAN, WALES.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WALES, CARDIFF.
ON LOAN AT THE BIG PIT MUSEUM AT BLAENAVON.