b. 24/01/1847 Methwold, Norfolk. d. 03/1923 Barnsley, Yorkshire.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 23/11/1907 Hoyland Silkstone Colliery, Barnsley, Yorkshire.
Francis Chandler was born in Methwold, Norfolk on 24th January 1847, the seventh of thirteen children born to Charles and Mary Ann Chandler (nee Bone). On 7th May 1869 in West Tofts, Norfolk, Francis married Jane Dixon and they had eleven children in all. Their children were William, Francis George, Florence, Blanche, Alfred, Beatrice. Leonard. Lawrence, Olive, Maud, and Rose Ellen. The eldest two children were born in Norfolk, before Francis moved his family north to Pontefract, Yorkshire. On 17th January 1905, his wife Jane died in Darfield, Yorkshire and sadly more tragedy would follow. His son Leonard, who had followed his father into the mining industry, was severely injured in the Hoyland Silkstone Colliery incident. Sadly, Leonard died of his injuries in Beckett Hospital, Barnsley four days after the roof cave in at the colliery. A second son Lawrence was also in the mine, but survived. Francis was awarded one of the first Edward Medals (Mine) to be gazetted, and was dubbed the “First Miners VC” by the press.
Frank Chandler, by now a national hero, travelled to London the following March, accompanied by his son-in-law and two local M.P’s. Crowds were waiting outside the Home Office to greet him and from there the party drove by horse cab to the palace where the king presented the award, and the whole ceremony was recorded in oils by the king’s artist, S. Begg. (It’s nice to know that this painting is still in the family). Later pictures were taken of Mr. Chandler on the terrace of the House of Commons and “Lloyds News” issued a specially illustrated supplement entitled “Frank Chandler the Barnsley hero visits the King.”
At the time of the incident, Francis was 60 years old. Following his retirement from the mines, he lived in Wentworth, before passing away in Barnsley in March 1923 aged 76. He left his medal to his son eldest William, but then its whereabouts became unknown. His Edward Medal was then sold at auction in 2011 at Dix Noonan Webb for £3,400 and is now held by the National Mining Museum, Wakefield.
Chandler, who is sixty years of age, was engaged with five others in repairing an underground boiler house, when a fall of roof took place which broke an iron girder and damaged the boiler, from which a rush of steam took place. All the men were scalded and hurt; one was killed on the spot and three others died afterwards. The lamps were extinguished. Although badly burnt and hurt, Chandler crept in the dark three times through the steam to the boiler top, to rescue others who could not move, at the risk of his own life. Being then unable to do more alone, he signalled to the pit top and was drawn up. Although almost exhausted he insisted on again descending the pit to assist in the rescue. His son was one of the victims of the disaster.
BURIAL LOCATION: HOYLAND CEMETERY, BARNSLEY, YORKSHIRE.
NOT NAMED ON HEADSTONE OF WIFE.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MINING MUSEUM, WAKEFIELD, YORKSHIRE.
John Hague (Francis Chandler EM’s Great Grandson) – for information and images about his great grandfather.
Rachael Spriggs – Image of Chandler’s grave in Hoyland Cemetery, Barnsley, South Yorkshire.