Orders, Decorations and Medals (25 September 2008)

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Date of Auction: 25th September 2008

Sold for £880

Estimate: £700 - £800

An Edward Medal for Mines in bronze awarded to John Rothery for gallantry at the Wellington Pit Fire, Whitehaven, 1910

Edward Medal (Mines), E.VII.R., bronze (John Rothery) mounted for wear, good very fine £700-800

Footnote

‘A terrible fire occured in the Wellington Pit, Whitehaven (11 May 1910), at a point about 4,500 yards from the shafts. Various rescue parties, with great courage and self-devotion and at considerable risk, descended the mine and endeavoured to extinguish the fire and penetrate to the persons in the workings beyond. Thorne and Littlewood, fitted with breathing apparatus, reached within a distance of 150 yards of the fire, but were driven back by the great heat and effusion of gases. The others got to within about 300 yards of it, working in the thick smoke. It was found impossible to penetrate to where the fire was or to rescue any of the entombed miners. Had an explosion occured - a by no means unlikely eventuality, seeing that the mine is a very gassy one - they would undoubtedly all have been killed. Special gallantry was shown by John Henry Thorne and James Littlewood, to whom the Edward Medals of the First Class were awarded.’ (Ref. Gallantry, by Wilson & McEwen).

The Wellington Pit Fire at Whitehaven, on 11 May 1910, cost the lives of 137 men and was the worst pit disaster ever to befall Cumbria. For gallantry in the rescue attempts, two silver and 63 bronze Edward Medals were awarded. Sold with copied research.