Heroes of the underground

I thank [Howmuch?] for the following contribution, which he found amongst his paperwork while having his annual clear out. He really is every it the star…


St. James’s Paloce, S.W.1.

12th February, 1957.

The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to give orders for the undermentioned appointment to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for the following awards of the George Medal and of the British Empire Medal, and for the publication in the London Gazette of the names of those specially shown below as having received an expression of Commendation for their brave conduct.

To be an Additional Member of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire:

George Albert SCHOFIELD, Colliery Manager. Walsll Wood Colliery, Cannock Chase.

Awarded the British Empire Medal (Civil Division) :-

George BYWATER. Overman, Walsall Wood Colliery, Cannock Chase.

William Henry JOINER, Acting Overman, Walsall Wood Colliery, Cannock Chase.

A fall of roof occurred at the Walsall Wood Colliery, at a point where two roads in a seam cross at right angles. Four men were killed outright and a fifth was imprisoned under the stones and inside a cavity about 3ft. square and 2ft. 6ins. high. Mr. Schofield immediately went to the scene of the accident and Mr. Joiner who had been in another part of the underground workings, joined him. They found that the three approaches to the fall each about 12ft. wide and 4ft. high, were completely blocked by fallen atone and they decided to go over the top to inspect the fourth side, which was in a fast end, a cul-de-sac. They were able to move enough stones to allow Schofield to squeeze through into a space about 12ft. square and 6ft. high above the fallen stone. He sent Joiner for props to support the roof and disregarding the possibility of further falls, started to make a way into the fast end. He was by this time able to talk to the man trapped under the fall. About ten minutes later Joiner got to the top of the fall and set props to the roof and sides. He noticed that a triangular stone, 8ft. wide, 12ft. long and 2½ft. high was gradually lowering and, in an attempt to prevent it falling, he built a pack under it with the stones that Schofield was removing to make a hole into the fast end. At about this time, Bywater arrived. He took charge in the approach road to the fall. Schofield and Joiner, located the imprisoned man, made a passage towards him through the stones and eventually were able to release him.

Also found was the following photograph, believed to be of the heroes in question, and a partial article from the Walsall Observer.

George Schofield, George Bywater and William joiner receive an award - I’m not sure who from. I think this image is from the Walsall Observer.

Sadly only a partial article from the Walsall Observer. Anyone have any more information?

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4 Responses to Heroes of the underground

  1. kate Goodall says:

    Love to see this stuff, sad though it often is. My Dad would have been in and about these parts back then, as a fresh faced ginger nutted mining surveyor.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Brian Rollins book, Coal Mining in the north east section of Walsall Metropolitan Borough published 2006, , pages 80 to 82 gives in detail his own memory of the incident. The article is entitled “Fatal accident 9th October 1956 (As witnessed by the author)”. I believe the local libraries have copiesof this book, but I give the ISBN reference;-09550892-6-3. Mr Walker,- “Paddy”- mentioned in the press article, died last year or so ago, and lived quite locally.


  3. Pingback: The night the roof fell in « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  4. Pingback: The Rescuers « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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