Today, 100 years ago, a mining disaster at Bellbird Colliery rocked the coalfields. The lives of 21 miners and six pit horses were lost to carbon monoxide.
The tragedy on September 1, 1923 continues to be the greatest coal mining disaster in Hunter Valley history, leaving 21 women widowed and 41 children without their fathers.
A century on, hundreds of people gathered at the site (now Bellbird Memorial Park) on Friday, September 1, 2023 to remember those lost on that tragic day.
Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson MP said the greatest honour the community can pay is to remember those who lost friends and loved ones.
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"Take a moment to think about those men who had to be held back by the police from going back down that pit," she said.
"Those women that ran with their children on foot to see if it was their husband or their son that had been engulfed underground."
Sandy Lee-Chalmers grandmother was one of those women, her husband George Sneddon one of the 21 miners killed.
"My mother was ten when her father George was killed," she said.
"She came out of the movie theatre to see smoke in the air and that's when they found out."
George who was 33-years-old, left behind a wife and six children, one who was as young as five-months-old.
Mrs Lee-Chalmers and her daughter Kate King (George's great granddaughter) travelled from Sydney and the South Coast to attend the centenary commemoration on September 1.
"It was lovely to see the centenary recognised," Mrs King said.
"I try to imagine what George's morning would have been like and it was probably chaos with six kids in the house. He was probably happy to be going to work."
Chairperson of the Coalfields Local Historical Association sub committee Lynette Hamer played a significant role in organising the event and said she herself comes from five generations of coal miners.
"I'm quite passionate about coal mining and mining," she said.
"Our mining history is fading and I wanted the young people to be aware that this is where their roots lie."
The centenary commemoration was put together by Coal Services, the Mining and Energy Union (MEU) and Coalfields Local Historical Association.