On 21 October 1966 more than 150,000 cubic metres of excavated mining debris, mud and slurry from Merthyr Vale Colliery in south Wales collapsed, engulfing a school in the village of Aberfan and killing 116 children and 28 adults.
The disaster touched the nation, and a public appeal was quickly launched. Donations totalling more than £1.6 million were received within months, but the damage to the small Welsh village was felt for generations.
On this day Brian Epstein, speaking on behalf of The Beatles, turned down a request for them to appear on a television special in aid of the victims’ families. Several public figures called on the world’s biggest band to make a gesture of support, but none was forthcoming.
Although they were sympathetic to the people of Aberfan’s plight, The Beatles were reluctant to be drawn into a benefit event. At the time the notion of a charity concert was unheard of. Furthermore, having recently given up touring, The Beatles were keen to avoid any actions which would have further turned them into public property.