George William Lofthouse EM

b. 16/08/1884 Bowburn, County Durham. d. 1959 Durham.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 04/08/1914 Wingate, County Durham.

George was the eldest of six children born to Edward and Mary Jane Lofthouse (nee Chapman). He was born on the 16th August 1884, in Bowburn, County Durham, and he grew up in Quarrington Hill. His father was a greengrocer and both of his parents were local to Durham. From a young age, George became a miner, and worked mostly at the pit in Wingate. By the time of the 1911 Census, George had married earlier that year to Isabella, and they had a newly born daughter, Mary Alwent, and he was now worked at a limestone quarry where he was an expert in explosives, a skill which would come very much in handy three years later at the Wingate pit. George and Isabella later had a son, George, born in 1917. By the time of the outbreak of WWII, George and Isabella were living in Easington, County Durham, where his profession was listed as a stoneman. George died, aged 75, in Durham, in the summer of 1959.



On the 4th of August, 1914, blasting operations were in progress at the bottom of a pit at Wingate, County Durham, 21 feet deep. The morning shift had fired three charges of gunpowder (between 30 and 40 pounds) at the bottom of the pit, and, when a man belonging to the afternoon shift was let down in a kibble or tub at 12.30, he was overcome by the fumes. His mate at the top shouted for assistance, and Lofthouse, who was not concerned in the operations in the pit, but was working some distance away, immediately ran to the pit and went down the rope to attempt a rescue. He got hold of the man and signalled to be raised, but, almost as soon as the kibble was lifted, both men fell out. Those at the top swung the kibble to and fro in order to clear away the fumes, and eventually, about 1.15, both men were brought out. Artificial respiration was resorted to; Lofthouse did not regain consciousness until two hours later, and the other man could not be revived. Lofthouse was experienced in the use of explosives and knew the danger of descending into the fumes, and his action was, therefore, extremely courageous.