Valley's outpouring of sorrow and grief
AT no time was the scale of the disaster's effect on the families and small valley communities they call home more apparent than during the four funerals.
Each send-off was accompanied by an outpouring of public grief that saw young and old stand shoulder to shoulder, heads bowed in their hundreds, outside chapels and churches they thought had seen the last of such occasions.
Most of the coffins were carried with a miner's hat and lamp resting on top, a poignant and proud reminder that these were hardworking men who had chosen to work in tough and dangerous environments to support their families.
The first funeral, that of Charles Breslin, took place to the emotive sounds of miners' song Working Man.
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Hundreds of people attended Morriston Cemetery for the service, with many mourners having to stand outside the crematorium and listen to the service on loudspeakers.
The 62-year-old dad of one, from Cwmllynfell, was the oldest of the four miners.
The Rev Tim Hewitt paid tribute to Mr Breslin, saying: "We give thanks today for Charles Breslin, a devoted husband, father and brother — a hard working man, a skilled man.
"He was a friend to many through his interests and contributions to many things."
Around 400 people turned out at Margam Crematorium to say goodbye to the popular 44-year-old Philip Hill.
The Rev Peter Lewis, told mourners that the father of three from Resolven had recently written that, even though he had spent 18 years mining, he still had a "drive" to go back to it, and felt "he had another 20 years to go".
"It was a drive many people here will understand," the minister said.
The road through the village of Cwmtwrch was closed for the funeral of Garry Jenkins, 39, as hundreds of people attended a service of remembrance.
Among the floral tributes was one from his son Alex that read simply: "To my Dad, Goodnight, God Bless, Love you forever, Alex Jenkins".
The mourners sang three hymns at Beulah Chapel — Gwahoddiad, Bread of Heaven, and Calon Lân.
Among the mourners were Neath MP Peter Hain, miners' leader Tyrone O'Sullivan, actor Steven Meo, former Wales rugby coach Clive Rowlands, and the deputy mayor of Pontardawe Huw Evans.
Councillor Evans said: "What happened in Gleision hit everyone hard — we in the Upper Swansea Valley as a congregation are feeling very deeply upset in a way I haven't seen before."
David Powell, 50, became the last of the four miners to be laid to rest.
A large church, St David's in Ystalyfera, was never going to be big enough to contain the grief of a whole community, but despite the rain, hundreds of people gathered outside to offer their respects.
A family tribute to the father of three read: "Dai was our life and soul, he brought joy and fun to everyone he met.
" We miss you Dai, you were a proud collier and man."
Summing up why the funerals had so greatly affected people, the Rev Tim Hewitt said: "The tragedy that has visited the Gleision colliery has touched the hearts of so many people because of the way the mining industry has played such a significant part in the lives of people in the Swansea Valley."