Graves of boating-accident victims, Deiniolen

Graves of boating-accident victims, Deiniolen

In this churchyard you can see the graves of 12 people who died on a boating trip. They were part of a large Sunday School excursion to Pwllheli on Saturday 1 July 1899 from the Llanberis and Llanddeiniolen areas.

Three adults and nine children from the Deiniolen party paid boatman Robert Thomas to take them on a trip on the sea. The boat capsized about 1.5km offshore, as you can read on our page about the accident site. All occupants except Robert drowned – see below for their details.

The bodies were recovered over several days. The inquest was adjourned after the brother of victim Owen Thomas “completely broke down”, along with several members of the jury. Five members of the Thomas family had perished on the trip.

The bodies, in polished pitch-pine coffins, were taken to their family homes. Hundreds of distraught neighbours were gathered outside for their arrival.

Jane Hughes, who was pregnant, had lost her entire family. The people “who conveyed the body of her seven-year-old child to the house found it the hardest task of their lives”.

Eleven victims were buried outside Christ Church on 6 July. Their houses were along the road from Bron Elidir, near Blue Peris, to the Fachwen junction (where the Lodge Café is now). People joined the funeral procession all along this road, eventually forming a mass of c.3,000. Dinorwig quarry managers gave workers leave to attend, and several officials represented the company.

The blinds of all houses on the route were pulled down as the procession passed. Hundreds of people waited at the churchyard. Six graves were newly dug. Owen Thomas and his wife Ellen were buried together, near their children. John Hughes was buried near his two children. Nearby, brothers Thomas and Richard Hughes were buried together. Charlie Davies was buried on the other side of the churchyard.

From a central position, Rev James Salt conducted a collective funeral service, which closed with the hymn Bydd Myrdd o Ryfeddodau. The scene “had no parallel in the annals of this part of North Wales”, wrote one reporter. A week later John Rowland Hughes was buried with his siblings, his body having been found on Abererch beach a week after the tragedy.

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce, of The History House

Postcode: LL55 3NG    View Location Map


Victims of the Pwllheli boating accident

Hughes family of Tŷ Ddewi

  • John Hughes, 36. Ex-postmaster of Dinorwig and an overlooker at Dinorwig quarry. Left a widow Jane and baby son, born after his death and named John after father and brother.
  • John (Johnny) Rowland Hughes, 12. Son of John and Jane Hughes.
  • Catherine (Cassie) Anne Hughes, 11. Daughter of John and Jane Hughes.
  • EEllen (Nellie) Hughes, 6. Daughter of John and Jane Hughes.

Thomas family of Tŷ’n y Fawnog

  • Owen Thomas, 33, quarryman. At the inquest in Pwllheli his brother Griffith broke down, as did several jurors, and the inquest was adjourned.
  • Ellen Thomas, 27. Had been married to Owen for only 14 months.
  • William (Willie) Edward Williams, 6. Son of Ellen and stepson of Owen.
  • Ellen (Nellie) Thomas, 10. Daughter of Owen and stepdaughter of Ellen.
  • Owen Parry Thomas, 3. Son of Owen and stepson of Ellen.

Hughes brothers of Tan y Bwlch

  • Richard Hughes, 15. Son of slate quarryman Thomas W Hughes and Jane Hughes. The week after his death, Richard was to have competed for an entrance scholarship to the Carnarvon County School along with Charles Davies, below.
  • Thomas Hughes, 12. Son of Thomas and Jane Hughes.

Charles Davies of Bron Elidir

  • Charles (Charlie) Davies, 13. Only son of Richard Davies, a Dinorwig quarry overlooker, and Jane Davies. Richard died less than a year later in February 1900 after an accident at the quarry. It was remarked that “the grief after the loss of his only son left its traces”. He left daughter Margaret and widow Jane.