Thomas Banks EM

b. 05/01/1876 Distington, Cumberland.  d. 1963 Whitehaven, Cumberland.

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

Thomas was the 6th of 7 children of Robert and Jane Banks, and grew up in Distington, near Whitehaven in Cumberland. He went down the mines at an early age, and by 1901, he was still living at home with widowed mother, supporting the family income. On 7th August 1904 in Harrington, he married Maggie Louisa Graham, and they had two daughters, Margaret and Mary, and a son, Thomas. By 1939, he was now a colliery agent living in Whitehaven. He died in Whitehaven aged 77 in 1963.



On the 1lth 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 selfdevotion 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 tire. It was found impossible to penetrate to the scene of the fire or to rescue any of the entombed miners. Had an explosion occurred 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.