March 4th 1908 left a wound that would take years to heal, when 23 miners were trapped below ground after a fire. My granddad was one of the first men to go underground to attempt a rescue. Each time the cage went down it had to be brought back up again, there was no breathing equipment and the fumes were so strong that more lives would have been lost had the men stayed down.
Two teams were brought in from Yorkshire, both having the masks that were desperately needed.
They arrived duriing the afternoon of the following day, by which time almost every man woman and child in the village was at the pit head, hoping for a miracle. The cage had been sent down so many times, once after it was thought that there was a noise which could be some ot the trapped men. A message was written on a blackboard, propped up with two miners lamps shining on it; written on the board was 'Knock the cage if you are at the bottom', there was no one there.
The leader of one of the Yorkshire rescuer teams lost his life, the breathing mask he wore was found to be faulty. So after hours of anguish the mine owners, in agreemnmet with the Inspector of mines, were forced to abandon any kind of rescue. It was 7 days before the fumes cleared, the fire had been so fierce. George with many others went below once more. Slowly over a few days they found the bodies. Six men were found behind a pit door, on it they had written in chalk 'The Lord preserve' then was the signatures ot them all ' For we are all trusting in Christ'.
Every man involved in that rescue attempt was given a meadal. George got silver, his brother in law who was 'Manager of Horse', and had lead a team, was given gold. The presentation took place at Birmingham Town Hall, in front of every noteworth in the City, on July 6th 1908. Together with his vase I am also the very proud owner of my Granddad's silver medal.