John William Howell AM

b. ? d. ?

DATE OF AM ACTION: 11/04/1877 Tynewydd Colliery, Porth, Glamorgan, Wales.

Very little is known about the life of John William Howell AM other than his actions at Tynewydd Colliery in April 1877.



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 abovementioned 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.