John Thomas Akers EM

b. 01/1870 Darliington, County Durham.  d. 1939 Darlington, County Durham.

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

John was the youngest of two sons of John and Mary A Akers, who lived in the St Cuthberts District of Darlington. From an early age, he worked in the pits. He married Elizabeth Ann and they had two children, William Bowman and Jane. By 1911, he was a Deputy Overman at Hedley Colliery. He died in Darlington in 1939.



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, he 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 was for 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 another 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.