Award of Medals and Bibles
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Albert medals were awarded to ten of the rescuers. They were presented by Lord Leigh, Lord lieutenant of the county at a special ceremony at the Corn Exchange, Atherstone, on February 19th 1883. As each of the medals was presented the following citations were read out.
Arthur Henry Stokes
Frederick Samuel Marsh
Thomas Henry Mottram
MR REUBEN SMALLMAN is a mining engineer, residing near Nuneaton. At 2 o'clock in the morning of May 2, he was called out of his bed by Mr Pogmore, the agent of Baddesley colliery, who informed him that there was a serious fire in the pit, and that nine miners were imprisoned in the deep workings, with, as he feared, but little chance of relief. Mr Smallman hurriedly dressed, and was driven by Mr Pogmore about 5 miles to the colliery, at which he had not previously been for many years. Having examined the plan, and made himself acquainted, as far as he could, with the state of the mine, and the probable position of the entombed miners, he descended the pit shaft about 3 o'clock, just as the first exploring party had been driven back, and at once took charge of the operations. As the fire was raging in the return airway, the only possible road by which the men could be rescued was the engine plane or intake airway. Under his guidance, therefore repeated attempts were made to clear this road of smoke and gas. Although the volunteers were frequently compelled to halt by outbursts of smoke and noxious gases, they continued their exertions for more than two hours, but were at last obliged to abandon the materials they were using, and retreat to the fresh air. The men being all more or less exhausted, it was thought prudent to call down fresh volunteers, and then make another determined, but as it proved, a last attempt to fight through the smoke. Accordingly, soon after 6 o'clock the attempt was resumed, and the gallant efforts continued until about 8.30 am (on May 2), when suddenly the air became motionless; then followed a loud report and roar like that of thunder, accompanied almost instantly by flames of fire, burning severely Mr Smallman and twelve other volunteers and inflicting fatal injuries on twenty three. Of the eighteen men then actually working with him in the advanced party, one only survives. Having made his way to the shaft, he there found many of the injured men, and ascended with the last two of them to the surface. Notwithstanding great shock to his system, and the pain he was suffering, he remained at the Colliery over three hours after the explosion, and was able to give a correct statement of what had happened to the engineers who followed him, and also to assist in their consultations. His calm judgement and great experience gave the volunteers confidence in all that was being done to save their fellow men; and although from the first it was thought next to impossible to penetrate the noxious gases, still he resolved never to desert the imprisoned miners so long as there was any chance whatever of their rescue. His gallantry, self-possession, and perseverance entitle him to our most profound respect, and her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen has conferred on him this distinguished token of her favour, "The Albert Medal of the First Class".
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Mr ARTHUR HENRY STOKES, Inspector of Mines, has been an able assistant in this district for many years. He received a telegram reporting the fire early on Tuesday morning, May 2, when, knowing that Mr Evans, chief Inspector of Mines, was not at home, he hurried from his residence in Derby as quickly as possible, and arrived at the colliery soon after the explosion. On his arrival he found Mr smallman lying in the engine-house, so badly burnt that he did not recognise him until he spoke. Mr Smallman then told him that an explosion of gas had taken place, that many were seriously injured, and that Mr Dugdale, and perhaps others were still in the buring mine. He cautioned Mr Stokes that it was dangerous to enter the mine, as another explosion might occur at any moment, but thought that an attempt should be made to rescue the surviving volunteers, and begged that such an effort should be made. Without hesitation, Mr Stokes accompanied by Messrs Spruce, Marsh, Mottram, Charles Day, and William Morris went down the shaft and groped their way , almost in the dark, along the level to the engine plane, which they found filled with smoke and noxious gases to within a short distance of the floor. Hearing a voice, they instantly rushed into the smoke, and succeeded in bringing out Mr Dugdale. As he was in a very weak state, although able to speak, they wrapped him in a blanket and brought him to the surface. Mr stokes again descended into the mine, and assisted in the rescue of John Collins. By his presence and advice Mr Stokes rendered invaluable aid and assistance on this occasion. After the acts of bravery so faintly described, he remained at the colliery as long as he could be of any service, and then assisted in attending the sick and injured, and dressing their wounds. He stayed at Baddesley until Mr Evans, the Chief Inspector arrived, and was present at the consultation of the engineers and the closing of the mine. His conspicuous bravery justly entitles him to our admiration and respect, and has obtained from Her Most gracious Majesty the Queen this distinguished mark of her favour, "The Albert Medal of the First Class".
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CHARLES DAY, collier, Baddesley, was employed as a deputy at the Colliery. Having been on duty from 2 p.m. on Monday, the 1 of May, he was at the pit bottom about 10 o'clock that night, when his son, Joseph Day, also a deputy, on descending the upcast shaft to relieve his father, discovered the smoke. Charles Day then ascended the shaft through the smoke and noxious gases, which nearly overpowered him, and after sending word to the manager, returned into the mine by the downcast shaft. He and his son then endeavoured to creep under the smoke over the "brow" of the engine plane, but found it impossible to do so without help. He afterwards took part in all the attempts made to rescue the nine imprisoned; but having been sent by Mr Smallman to perform some duty out of engine plane at the time of the explosion, he fortunately escaped without any severe burns, although badly shaken. Notwithstanding the many hours he had been on duty, and the shock to his system caused by the explosion, he was one of the party of six which first after the accident descended the mine and rescued Mr Dugdale, and again made one of the second party, which rescued John Collins. He volunteered also for the third party, but, owing to his exhausted state, was not allowed to go down again. His unflinching bravery and endurance was marvellous; and he refused to leave his post until carried away by order of Mr Stokes. He had three sons fatally injured by the explosion, of whom the eldest, Joseph Day, displayed, whilst enveloped in flame, acts of bravery and self- devotion of the very highest character. These acts of conspicuous bravery have won for him the esteem of all, and Her Most gracious Majesty the Queen has been pleased to confer upon him this distinguished token of her favour, "The Albert Medal of the First Class".
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CHARLES CHETWYND, collier, Baddesley, was one of the volunteers who descended into the mine after the explosion and rescued Rowland Till. Several volunteers went down, and going to the edge of the smoke called out to Till, but hearing no reply, returned to the surface. They were followed by Charles Chetwynd, William Pickering and John Clark, who also went to the edge of the smoke calling and listening. After some time they heard a groan, when Chetwynd and Pickering attempted to creep under the smoke, but being apprehensive that it would overpower them, returned to the fresh air, and sent Clark for more help. Joseph Chetwynd and William Morris returned into the mine with him, but on arriving at the pit bottom, at the suggestion of Joseph Chetwynd, W.Morris fetched a rope from the surface, and the three then went forward. Charles Chetwynd tied one end of the rope round himself, and taking the other end with him, crept under the smoke until he found , and secured by the rope, Rowland Till. With the assistance of other volunteers, he dragged him out of the smoke and brought him alive to the surface. For this conspicuous act of bravery, Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen has been pleased to confer upon him this distinguished mark of her approval, "The Albert Medal of the First Class".
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SAMUEL SPRUCE, mining engineer, Tamworth, on hearing of the fire at Baddesley Colliery, and that nine miners were entombed, hastened to the spot, in the hope that his long and varied experience might be of service. On arriving at the pit top, he found that an explosion had occurred, that many explorers were burned, and that Mr Dugdale, with others, was still in the mine. After receiving an account of the accident from Mr Smallman, he immediately volunteered to go down, and with Mr Stokes organised and assisted in the first party which entered the pit after the explosion, and proceeded along that perilous route already described until Mr Dugdale was found and rescued. Having no personal acquaintance with the workings of the colliery, being far advanced in life, and knowing so well the imminent danger incurred by anyone entering the mine he displayed an act of conspicuous bravery, which her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen has recognised by conferring on him the decoration of "The Albert Medal of the Second Class".
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Mr FREDERICK SAMUEL MARSH, colliery manager, Hall End, Tamworth, is a manager of a neighbouring colliery, but not in any way connected with the Baddesley pit. On hearing however, of the fire in the pit, and that nine men were entombed, he immediately hastened there to render assistance, and was one of the party which entered the mine after the explosion, and rescued Mr Dugdale. He was also one of the second party which rescued John Collins. For a third time he descended into the mine to the rescue of Rowland Till, but did not penetrate the smoke on this occasion, as he could not hear Till, and was much affected by his previous exertions in the noxious gas. However, upon learning that that Clark had been asking for further help, he entered the mine for the fourth time, and assisted Charles Chetwynd and others in bringing Rowland Till from the edge of the smoke to the shaft and surface. For these repeated acts of conspicuous bravery, Her Most gracious majesty the Queen has conferred upon him the decoration of "The Albert medal of the Second Class".
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Mr THOMAS HENRY MOTTRAM, colliery manager, Tamworth, is not in any way connected with the Baddesley Collieries. On hearing, however, of the fire in the pit, and that nine men were entombed, he immediately hastened there to render assistance, and was one of the first party which entered the mine after the explosion and rescued Mr Dugdale. He was also one of the second party which rescued John Collins. For a third time he descended into the mine to the rescue of Rowland Till, but did not penetrate the smoke on this occasion, as he could not hear Till and was much affected by his previous exertions in the noxious gas. However, upon hearing that Clark had been asking for further help, he entered the mine for a fourth time, and assisted Charles Chetwynd and others in bringing Rowland Till from the edge of the smoke to the shaft and surface. For these repeated acts of conspicuous bravery, Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen has conferred upon him the decoration of "The Albert Medal of the Second class".
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WILLIAM MORRIS, collier, Baddesley, was one of the six volunteers who first descended the mine after the explosion, and assisted in the rescue of Mr Dugdale, as already described. He also entered the mine as one of the volunteers who affected the rescue of Rowland Till. After descending the shaft on this occasion, at the request of Joseph Chetwynd he fetched a rope from the surface, and afterwards with William Pickering, followed Charles Chetwynd with it, and helped to drag Rowland Till to the fresh air, and afterwards convey him out of the pit. For this act of conspicuous bravery, Her Most gracious Majesty the Queen has conferred upon him the decoration of "The Albert Medal of the Second class".
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WILLIAM PICKERING, collier, Baddesley, was one of the volunteers who entered the mine after the explosion and rescued Rowland Till. He was with Charles Chetwynd, and assisted him in all that he did to bring Till out. When Charles Chetwynd led with the rope under the smoke, he and William Morris followed, holding the rope, so they might assist when required. He helped to get Till out of the smoke and to the surface. For this act of conspicuous bravery, her most Gracious Majesty the Queen has conferred upon him the decoration of "The Albert Medal of the Second Class".
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JOSEPH CHETWYND, collier, Baddesley, twice descended the mine to the rescue of Rowland Till. Upon entering it on the second occasion, after John Clark had made known that more help was needed, he thought it desirable to have a rope, so that the volunteers might assist each other when in the smoke, and at his request William Morris went back to the pit top, and returned with one. Taking it with him to the edge of the smoke, he asked Charles Chetwynd, as the youngest and strongest of the party, to tie one end round himself, and to take the other forward to tie round Till. Acting under his advice, William Pickering and William Morris followed, holding the rope at intervals, and he followed them and assisted in bringing Till out to the fresh air, and also to the surface. For this act of conspicuous bravery, her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen has conferred upon him the decoration of "The Albert medal of the Second Class".
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The Relief Fund Committee decided that all the rescuers who tried in vain to rescue the 8 men and a boy trapped by the fire in the pit on 1st/2nd May deserved some kind of recognition of their bravery. It was decided that all the survivors plus the family representatives of those who died should receive a specially inscribed family Bible. The cost was paid out of the Relief Fund. The Bibles were presented at simple ceremonies by the vicars of the appropriate parish. Below is a transcription of the reports of the presentations as they appeared in editions of the Atherstone Herald at the time.
THE BAXTERLEY COLLIERY EXPLOSION
PRESENTATIONS TO THE RESCUERS AND OTHERS
A meeting was held in the Schoolroom, Bentley, on Thursday evening last week, with a view to presenting most of the surviving volunteers, and the friends of those who had lost their lives, with a quarto family Bible. There were present- the Rev H Hanmer (Rector of Grendon and rural dean, in the chair), the Rev T J C Gardner (vicar of Baddesley Ensor), Mrs Gardner, the Rev Hugh Bacon (Rector of Baxterley), Mr J C Fowke (hon sec), Miss Fowke and Messrs J G Arnold, secretary, Stokes (HM Inspector of mines), Vero, Mcfarlane, Smallman, Ashwin, Morgan and Neale.
The Rev Hugh Bacon having opened the meeting by prayer, the chairman, after delivering a short address, proceeded to hand over the Bibles to the recipients in his parish. Inside the cover of each book is one of the following inscriptions: - " Presented in the name of the subscribers to the Relief Fund to ------ in memory of ------- for his bravery at the Baddesley Colliery, on the1st and 2nd May, 1882." "Presented in the name of the subscribers to the Relief Fund to ------ for his bravery at the Baddesley Colliery, on the 1st and 2nd may, 1882." The Bibles were presented in the following order: -
Grendon :- To Sarah Boonham, in memory of her husband, Samuel Boonham; Charles Albrighton in memory of his son, Charles Albrighton; Henry Ball, in memory of his brother, Amos Ball; Ellen Day, in memory of her brother, William Day; Ann Maria Day in memory of her brother, Thomas Day.
Chairman to the following residents of Grendon:- Charles Day (The award for bravery was then handed to the Albert medallist), George Ball, Edward Ball, William Sanders, Thomas Walker, Thomas Radford, Henry Radford, Charles Hunt, James Lewis, James Goddridge.
Mr Arthur Henry Stokes and Mr Reuben Smallman also received a Bible each at the hands of the Chairman.
Baddesley Ensor :- after making a few hearty remarks, the Rev T J C Gardner presented Bibles to the recipients residing in his parish as follows:- To Ann Day, in memory of her husband Joseph Day; Emma Smallwood, in memory of her husband John Smallwood; Eliza Atkins, in memory of her husband John Atkins; Amy Horton, in memory of her husband William Horton; Harriet Ball (Walsall), in memory of her husband Joseph Ball.
The following of the Baddesley residents received the award for bravery from their vicar: - Henry Sanders, Edward Cooke, William Hough, Charles Chetwynd (Albert medallist), William Pickering (Albert medallist), Joseph Chetwynd (Albert medallist), William Dingley, James Chetwynd.
The Rev gentleman also presented a silver watch, suitably inscribed to Mrs Day, in memory of her husband, Joseph Day, and to Henry Sanders, as a mark of the committee's appreciation of the bravery the two deceased miners displayed at the time of the accident.
Baxterley :- By the Rev. Hugh Bacon: To Elizabeth Clay, in memory of her husband Joseph Clay; Sarah Ann Evans, in memory of her husband John Evans; Sarah Parker, in memory of her husband John Parker; Mary Evans, in memory of her husband Richard Evans; Ann Besson, in memory of her husband Thomas Besson; Eli Smith, in memory of his son Eli Smith; Thomas Till, in memory of his son Rowland Till; Edward Collins, in memory of his brother John Collins.
The Rev Hugh Bacon presented books to the following of the rescuers residing in his parish: - Edward Collins, George Rowbottom, William Day, William Bates, William Morris, (Albert Medallist), William Clay, John Cope, George Morris, William Parker.
The Chairman then presented a Bible to Master F S and E T S Dugdale, sons of the late W S Dugdale Esq.
The Rev Hugh Bacon said he had been desired by Mrs Dugdale (who was unable to be present) to represent to the Committee her appreciation of their kindness in presenting Bibles to her sons: and she also wished to thank all who assisted in the rescue for their readiness to volunteer.
Mr A H Stokes proposed a vote of thanks to the Committee for their handsome gifts.
Mr William Pickering seconded, and it was carried unanimously.
Mr C Vero returned thanks on behalf of the Committee; and the Chairman having pronounced the benediction, the meeting was brought to a close.
On Saturday, the 14th inst., a meeting was held in the Boy's Free School, Atherstone. There were present the Revs F H Riching (Chairman) and Hugh Bacon, Miss Fowke and Miss Bishop, and Messrs J C Fowke and J G Arnold.
The Chairman, after a few remarks, presented Bibles to Emma Archer, in memory of her husband Richard Archer; George Congreve and Joseph Radford.
Subseqently the Chairman, with the Secretary, Mr Arnold, attended at the residence of Mrs Pogmore and Mrs Cobb, and presented a Bible to the former lady in memory of her husband, and to Mrs Cobb in memory of her brother, Frank Herbert Pogmore.
Bibles are purchased to be presented to Messrs Samuel Spruce, mining engineer, Tamworth and Thomas Mottram, colliery manager, Tamworth.
The Rev H Hanmer has handed over a Bible to Mr Frederick Samuel Marsh, colliery manager, Hall End; the Rev James Hulme, vicar of Woodside to Mrs Emma Evans, Cinderford, in memory of her husband Charles Evans; the Rev E S Chamberlayne, rector of Witherley, to John Clark, Witherley
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