Life Saving Awards from the Collection of John Wilson

Date of Auction: 25th March 2013

Sold for £700

Estimate: £700 - £800

Society for the Protection of Life from Fire, 1st type, silver, reverse inscribed, ‘To Edd. E. Lipscomb P.C. A.65, who at the risk of his own life saved from Death by Fire a Person at Marylebone St., May 14th 1840’, ring suspension, good very fine, rare £700-800


Ex D.N.W. 4 July 2001.

38 1st type medals awarded.

Extract from Saved from the Flames, by Roger Willoughby and John Wilson -

Details: The Third Annual Report of the Society (1840, p. 15) records that: ‘The Chairman [John Hardy] also presented silver medals to Police Inspector J Covington, C [Division], Police Constables W Drane, 141C, W Kemble, 163A, and E Lipscombe, 63A, for being instrumental in saving life at a fire which took place in Marylebone Street, in May last’. The Times (18 May 1840, p. 6) reports more details of the events: ‘THE LATE DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AND LOSS OF LIFE IN MARYLEBONE STREET, REGENT STREET –Saturday afternoon, at 4 o’clock, a jury consisting of the churchwardens and 14 of the principal inhabitants of St James’,Westminster, was empanelled before Mr Higgs, deputy‐coroner, in the board‐room of the workhouse of that parish, Poland Street,Oxford Street, to investigate the circumstances attendant on the deaths of Mr John Marr, cashier to the United Kingdom Insurance Company, Waterloo Place, aged 46 years, and Mr Joseph Cowley, clerk to Messrs Stulz and Co., Clifford Street, Bond Street, aged 35 years, who were burnt in the destructive fire which occurred on the night of Wednesday last at the house of Mr Adam Clark, cheesemonger, 33 Marylebone Street, Regent Street…[PC William Green gave evidence about having discovered the fire at 32 Marylebone Street at 12.50am while on his beat. He raised the alarm and then obtained further assistance from the police station.] William Kemble [was] examined – I am a police constable, A163. I was in the company of the last witness [PC Samuel Goodchild]. When I got to the house I knocked at the door violently, but no one answered. I think it would have awakened any one if they had been sleeping on the ground floor. I then knocked at the next house, towards Air Street, and on the door being opened I ran upstairs into the dining room, and on opening the window saw a person on the leads of the burning house, who had got down by means of a sheet, whom I assisted into the house I was in. I then saw another person standing on the top of the house, near the parapet, and ran up to the top of the house and through a trapdoor on to the roof, and assisted him through. I asked him if there were any other persons in the house. He said yes, and I ran down to the window again, and held out a bed quilt, but saw nothing of any other person. James Covington examined. I am inspector of the C division. On the morning in question I received information, while at the station house in Vine Street, from…Constable Green, about a quarter past 1 o’clock, that there was a fire in Marylebone Street. I ran directly to the house. The lower part appeared to me to be all in flames. I went into the next house, No. 32, and up to the attic, and found there a constable of the A division, who was calling a man to the window of the adjoining house. I endeavoured to draw the man’s attention by throwing a blanket towards him. He, however, got out of the window, standing on a small piece of cornice, and holding on the window frames, and got along until he reached the window at which I was. I and a constable took hold of him as soon as we could reach him, and dragged him in at our window. He was dressed all but one shoe and his hat. Had we not assisted him, he must have fallen into the street. I then ran downstairs, and assisted in knocking a hole through a wall which divides the front area of No. 32 from that of No. 33, and we dragged a boy through who was in the area of No. 33. He was only slightly bruised. Constable Drane, C, No. 141, assisted me… The man who escaped by the window got out of the middle one, and managed to get past the other window; but there was then a break between the cornice of that house and the one I was in, at which moment we got hold of him, and saved him. Edward Francis Lipscombe [was] examined – I am a police constable, A65. I was with Goodchild when we saw the smoke. The doors of the house were closed, but suddenly, I found the shopdoor open, and I went in with others. The flames were then running round the shop and parlour…I consider the fire must have originated on the shop floor. I assisted Covington in getting the man in at the window. When the fire burst out at the windows it appeared to come out all at once. I heard persons screaming in the house. The turncock did not appear to know where to find the plug, and he would not let us have the irons for us to try. Saw none of the inmates of No. 32...The jury further said that their best thanks were eminently due to the police employed at the late fire in Marylebone Street, for their meritorious exertions in the preservation of three human lives, who would most probably have perished in the flames; and to both them and the firemen, for their prompt services and efficient attention’.

With copied research.