A LONG-RUNNING campaign to make a memorial in tribute to more than 100 men and boys who died in a colliery explosion in Torfaen has been given the green light.

It comes after a community fundraising effort from The Friends of the Llanerch Memorial Fund has raised around £12,000 to date.

The plans will see a memorial monument erected at the site of the the Llanerch Colliery disaster in Abersychan.

On the morning of February 6, 1890, 176 men and boys were killed in a gas explosion at the site.

The first phase of the project will see a black, brick plinth with the names of those killed engraved in stainless steel in front of the former shaft at the pit.

As well as the 176 who died in the blast, it will include the names of five miners who died in an underground explosion at Glyn Pits on January 23, 1890.

The six-foot long, angled plinth is planned to be unveiled in time to coincide with the 129th anniversary of the disaster on February 6 next year.

Planning permission was granted via a delegated decision by Torfaen council planning officers this week.

Carol Watkins, secretary of the Friends of the Llanerch Memorial Fund, said the group was delighted by the news.

"We are overjoyed that all our hard work has come together," she said.

"The community has been behind us and helped which we appreciate."

The second phase of the plans include making five-foot tall wooden sculptures, including one of a man carrying a young boy away from the pit, planned to be made by artist Chris Wood in time for the 130th anniversary.

Several 12-year-old boys are known to have died in the explosion, which could be heard from several miles away.

The idea for the project came after a service was held to mark the 125th anniversary of the disaster.

This led to the setting up of the Friends of the Llanerch Memorial Fund, which has raise around £12,000 through various fundraising events and donations from the community.

Its work has also included researching and writing a book on the event, as well as helping pupils in the area learn about it.

"You will be surprised how many people know nothing about it," added Ms Watkins.

"Our aim is to raise awareness about the terrible debt we owe these miners."

To find out more about the group, or to donate, search Friends of the Llanerch Memorial Fund on Facebook.