James Watson Collingwood EM

b. 10/05/1873 Tudhoe, Durham.  d. 03/1945 South Elmsall, Yorkshire.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 12/12/1923 Frickley Colliery, Yorkshire.

James was the oldest of four children born to James and Mary Jane Collingwood (nee Hodgson). His siblings were Dora, Watson and Edith. James grew up in Tudhoe and then Coundon, County Durham, and was soon involved in the mining industry from a young age. In 1895, he had a daughter Mary Elizabeth, and it is assumed the mother was Isabella Routledge, whom he married in 1897. In 1898, whilst living in Ryhope, County Durham, they had a son, Reuben. In 1908, they would have their last child, Stanley. By 1911, James had moved his family south to Yorkshire and settled in South Elmsall, near Pontefract close to Frickley Colliery, where he had gained employment. On retirement from the mining industry due to ill health, he lived at 98 Clifford Street, South Elmsall, with Isabella. Isabella passed away in 1944, and sadly, less than a year later, James died in South Elmsall, and was buried in St Mary the Virgin Churchyard.



On December 12th, 1923, in the course of operations at the Frickley Colliery in Yorkshire, a boy named Bacon was leading his pony which was drawing two empty tubs along a line of rails. One of the tubs became derailed upon which the pony bolted and displaced a prop in the workings thus causing a heavy fall of roof to take place. The pony was killed and Bacon was buried up to his waist. Smith and Collingwood, colliers working near by, heard the fall and at once proceeded to the spot. They realised the danger to the boy if a further fall occurred and immediately made use of some long poles lying near to erect a temporary roof over him. A second fall did actually take place a few minutes later and Bacon was preserved unhurt while Smith and Collingwood just managed to jump clear. An hour later other men arrived on the scene and operations for Bacon’s release were commenced. He was eventually released after 3 and half hours’ hard work. Great credit is due to all the men engaged in the work of releasing Bacon as pieces of the roof were continuously falling while the operation was in progress. It is, however, to Smith and Collingwood that Bacon owes his life which he would undoubtedly have lost but for the initial steps they took to safeguard him and render possible the subsequent work of rescue. They ran a grave risk while they were erecting the temporary roof and displayed great courage and resource.