Pantglas Junior School

Pantglas Junior School

Mr Davis, our teacher, got the board out and wrote our maths class work and we were all working, and then it began. It was a tremendous rumbling sound and all the school went dead. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone was petrified, afraid to move. Everyone just froze in their seats. I just managed to get up and I reached the end of my desk when the sound got louder and nearer, ‘til I could see the black out of the window. I can’t remember any more but I woke up to find that a horrible nightmare had just begun in front of my eyes.
Pupil, Pantglas Junior School

I was standing in front of the class and the thing I remember the most was what I thought was a couple of slates dropping off the roof; because they had been repairing the roof. And with that I looked up through the fog and I could see this enormous spinning boulder and there was a black line alongside it. And I had time to realise that that spinning boulder wasn’t heading for me. I immediately looked at the class and with that it crashed into the room at the speed of a jet aeroplane and I was hurled from the centre of the room to the corner by the door. … I could feel the room shaking and I could see the room filling up. I’m afraid my life didn’t flash in front of me. What was happening I just didn’t know. And then it stopped. And there was such an eerie silence I remember. From … a tall old classroom … with echoes and sounds, there was nothing, there was just this deadness. And I had a chance to reassess the situation. I was trapped up to my waist in desks and rubble and goodness knows what else. And I looked up to the roof and I could see a young lad in my class right up at the roof and climbing down what was then a tip inside my classroom. And I could hear children all, well they weren’t screaming, they were trapped amongst their desks. And mercifully in my classroom no one was injured badly as far as I can remember, they were trapped but no one was injured badly. And I remember this boy climbing down and he climbed to the door, and I was trapped near the door, and he started kicking the top half of the door in. So I said to him ‘What are you doing?’ And he said ‘I’m going home’. And the reality still hadn’t come home to me I don’t think because I felt like giving him a row for breaking the glass. So he kicked the top half of the door and then he went out. And I thought well I better try and get out of here.
Teacher, Pantglas Junior School

I was about to start marking the register when there was a terrible noise like a jet plane and I was afraid it was going to fall on the school. So I said to my children ‘Get under your desks quickly and stay there’. And there was one little boy in front of me … and he kept poking his head out, ‘Why Miss? Why have I got to do that?’ And I said, ‘Because I’m telling you to, get under your desk’, and I had to go and put his head under and stand by him. As it happened nothing happened in our classroom, just this dreadful noise. It seemed like ages but it must have been only a few minutes and there was silence.
Teacher, Pantglas Junior School

My abiding memory of that day is blackness and dark. I was buried by this horrible slurry and I am afraid of the dark to this day.
Pupil, Pantglas Junior School

I went to the door of the classroom and tried the door of the class room, the children were still under their desks, the door opened, some rubble fell but when I looked out all I could see was black and large lumps of concrete which were parts of the cloak room. But when I looked I could see there was enough room for us to crawl through sort of a tunnel. So I went back to the children and I said we had a fire drill and I wanted them to walk out of class quietly. That I’d go to the school door and open it and then I’d come back and they were to go out one at a time. They weren’t to talk, they were to go out and stand in the yard and wait for fire drill. And every one of the children did as I asked them. They went out quietly and stood in the yard. I came out then at the end and Mair had come down from the room and we didn’t know what had happened. We went round the corner and when we looked around the corner well it just looked as if the end of the school had just vanished, there was a just a black tip.
Teacher, Pantglas Junior School

… when I got outside I looked at what was to become a famous picture of where the school, where three classrooms had being … the school was smashed over with this rubble. And I remember standing looking at that and thinking, well, the reality of it, I just couldn’t believe it. And from where there were, at least to my calculations, a hundred children there wasn’t a sound.
Teacher, Pantglas Junior School

I remember being thrown across the classroom when the stuff hit us, then I must have blacked out. I woke to the sound of rescuers breaking a window, then I saw [my friend]. I will never forget the sight. There was blood coming out of his nose and I knew he was dead. If I close my eyes I can still see his face as plain as that moment.
Pupil, Pantglas Junior School

I was there for about an hour and a half until the fire brigade found me. I heard cries and screams, but I couldn’t move. The desk was jammed into my stomach and my leg was under the radiator. The little girl next to me was dead and her head was on my shoulder.
Pupil, Pantglas Junior School