Aberfan 1966 & Lord Robens of Woldingham

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2016 by kmflett

Aberfan 1966 & Lord Robens of Woldingham


The head of the National Coal Board Lord Robens (1961-71) was a key player in the Aberfan disaster in 1966.

In that role he tried to deny the NCB’s responbility for Aberfan and later resisted calls for the coal tips in the area to be cleared.

A typical industrialist one might assume.

In fact Alf Robens was a trade union official for the shopworkers union USDAW from 1935-1945. In 1945 he was elected Labour MP for a mining constituency Wansbeck (later MP for Blyth). Robens was a Junior Minister in the Attlee Government. After Labour’s defeat in 1951 Robens became Shadow Foreign Secretary before being replaced by Nye Bevan.

There is a suggestion that he could have been a contender for the Labour leadership but in 1960 he accepted the invitation from the Tory Government of Harold Macmillan to head up the NCB.

After Aberfan, rather bizarrely, he headed from 1969 at the invitation of Barbara Castle an investigation into workplace safety. His 1972 report led to the formation in 1974 of the Health & Safety Executive.

By the late 1970s he was believed to be more in sympathy with the Tories.

This was, at least one element of, Old Labour


One Response to “Aberfan 1966 & Lord Robens of Woldingham”

  1. USDAW didn’t exist till 1947 when formed from NUDAW and NUSAWC.

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