|This rickety old train that
looks like it came straight from Toytown was
employed pulling wagons of coal from the mine to the
dock at Ny Ålesund.
Ny Ålesund was initially started as a coal
mining settlement, it had been known that coal was
there for many years, though it wasn't until 1916
when the area was sold to a group from the town of Ålesund
in Norway that it was first exploited.
Mining here didn't have a good record with
explosions and deaths being all too common. The
final straw came on the 5th of November 1962 when an
enormous explosion ripped through the mine killing
21 people, the sound of the explosion could be heard
in Longyearbyen 120km (75 miles) away. The mine was
closed and the then Prime Minister of Norway had to
leave his post amidst allegations of inadequate
safety measures being taken in the mining industry.
There had been 200 people living in Ny Ålesund,
almost all connected with the mining, they now left
and slowly Ny Ålesund became populated with
scientists and scientific research stations.
78° 55' N 11° 56' E
copyright Paul Ward