James McKenzie EM

b. 07/1860 Whitehaven, Cumberland. d. 29/04/1924 Whitehaven, Cumberland.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.

James was the second eldest of nine children born to Hugh and Margaret McKenzie (nee Farrell). His father was a miner, and from an early age, most of his sons including James became miners. In 1879, James married Ann McCumiskey, and they went on to have six children. James became a Deputy Overman at the Wellington Pit. On 11th May 1910 during the events of the terrible fire, James as well as his older brother Edward, and two of Edward’s sons, Edward junior and Hugh were all involved. The four members of the McKenzie family all received the Edward Medal for their part in the rescue. James died on 29th April 1924, aged 64, and was buried in Whitehaven Cemetery.



On the 11th May, 1910, a terrible fire occurred in the Wellington Pit, Whitehaven, at a point about 4,500 yards from the shafts. Various rescue parties, with great courage and self-devotion and at considerable risk, descended the mine and endeavoured to extinguish the fire and penetrate to the persons in the workings beyond the same. Thorne and Littlewood, fitted with breathing apparatus, reached within a distance of 150 yards of the fire, but were driven back by the great heat and effusion of gases. The others got to within about 300 yards of the fire, working in the smoke backing from the fire. It was found impossible to penetrate to the scene of the fire or to rescue any of the entombed miners. Had an explosion occurred — a by no means unlikely eventuality, seeing that the mine is a very gassy one — they would undoubtedly all have been killed. Special gallantry was shown by John Henry Thorne, to whom the Edward Medal of the First Class has already been awarded, and by James Littlewood.



Ward 6 – Section O – Grave 229