Dr Charles James Brookfield Fox EM

b. 06/11/1898 Craghead, County Durham. d. 16/02/1971 Carlisle, Cumberland.

DATE OF EM ACTION:  29/09/1930 Hedley Pit, South Moor, County Durham.

Charles was born on 6th November 1898 in Craghead, County Durham, the only child of Samuel John Brookfield and Catherine Wardle Fox (nee Fairley). His father was the local General Practitioner based at Shafto Cottage in Craghead, and his mother worked as a midwife. The familu was relatively wealthy as they could afford to employ a locum second GP and two servants. In 1917, Charles married Kathleen Marshall in Stanley, County Durham, and by 1925, he had qualified as a doctor. He began a general practice in South Moor and in Stanley, hence the fact he was near to the Hedley Pit on the 29th September 1930 when he was called to possibly have to amputate Frederick Beaumont’s leg. By 1939, Charles was running his own general practice at 1 Ivy Terrace in Stanley, living with Kathleen, his mother in law, and a sister in law. His sister in law Barbara was working as his private secretary. They also employed two servants in the household. Little else is known about Dr Charles Fox, other than that in later life he moved to Cumberland, and settled in Carlisle. At the time of his death on 16th February 1971 aged 72, he was living at a property named “La Moye” in Houghton Road, Carlisle, and his will stated his estate was worth £15041 (£187,500 today).



On the 29th September, 1930, a fall of roof occurred in the Hedley Pit, South Moor, County Durham, partially burying a hewer, Frederick Beaumont. A chargeman, Victor King, was the first to come to the rescue. He found that a small passage-way remained open by which the buried man might be reached and, with the assistance of his son Richard and John George Tarn, be immediately built two chocks of timber to keep it open. The passage was seven yards long and about two feet square and the only practicable method of rescue wasfor three men to crawl along the passage-way and lie full length, two in the passage-way and one over Beaumont’s body, and pass back, one at a time, the stones that were pinning him down.

This perilous and arduous work was carried on for nine hours by a team of miners (including Victor King) working in relays under the direction of the manager (Walter Robert Scott) and the under-manager (Robert Reed) until at last Beaumont was released, shaken but otherwise uninjured. During the whole nine hours the roof was shifting and “trickling” and on four occasions Beaumont was almost freed when a further fall buried him again. At one time the danger of a further fall appeared so great that the manager telephoned for a doctor (Dr. Charles James Brookfield Fox) to come to the pit to amputate Beaumont’s leg and so expedite his release. Fortunately — as it turned out — the doctor found it impossible to amputate in the restricted area in which Beaumont was confined, but he remained on the scene until Beaumont was rescued and examined and treated him before sending him to the surface. Shortly after Beaumont was extricated the whole of the tunnel collapsed.