Walter Clifford EM

b. 04/07/1862 Bramcote Moor, Nottinghamshire.  d. 12/12/1923 Stoke on Trent, Staffs.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 04/03/1908 Hamstead Colliery, Staffordshire.

Walter Clifford EM

Walter Clifford was born in Bramcote, Nottinghamshire, on 4th July, 1862. He was the son of Joseph and Hannah Clifford (nee Walker). Little is known of his early life but he appeared on the 1891 Census for Bramcote as a ‘Cotton Warper’ and was by then married to Agnes Abbot Clifford (nee Beedon), and had one son, Edward. (b. 27th January, 1890).

His second son, Arthur Bernard, was born on 13th July 1894 and the family were then living in Dodworth, Yorkshire where, according to family stories, Walter’s elder brother John had secured him a job at the Strafford Colliery. The 1901 Census records Walter as an ‘Electric Signal Fitter’ and his brother John as ‘Engine Man Below Ground’ The family were still living in Dodworth when Walter’s third child, Mabel Annie (b. 18th March 1904) was born.

How Walter became involved in Mines Rescue is unclear but it is assumed that he volunteered to join the service when the then new joint rescue station at Tankersley was created. Whilst there he, along with a team from Altofts, responded to the disaster at the Hamstead Colliery in March 1908. On 21st July 1908 he received, from His Majesty the King, an Edward Medal (1st Class) for his endeavours. The award was made at an investiture at Buckingham Palace. The Colliery Guardian reported “the longest and most detailed account laid before the King by Mr Gladstone had reference to the pluck displayed on the occasion of the Hamstead Colliery fire by James Hopwood, James Wittingham, James Cranswick, John Henry Thorne, Walter Clifford and Joseph Outram. It may be mentioned that Mrs Welsby, whose husband lost his life at Hamstead, is to receive the Edward Medal.”  It is interesting to note that, in the history of the Edward Medal, only 77 1st class, or Silver awards have been made, 5 of them to members of the teams involved at Hamstead.

In January 1910 Walter succeeded Sgt Arthur Thomas Winborn as Superintendent of the Tankersley Rescue Station just after Winborn left to take control of the new mines rescue station in Crumlin (Wales). In 1911, Walter was recruited by the North Staffordshire Colliery Owners to start a rescue station in Stoke and to train sufficient numbers of rescue men for the North Staffordshire Collieries.

Walter was the proud owner of the North Staffordshire Colliery Association’s medal, depicting the Staffordshire Knot, and he received 9 bars to this medal between 1911 and 1918. The bars were for involvement in Mines Rescue at :- Birchenwood, 1911, Jamage, 1911, Hednesford, 1911 (South Staffordshire area), Norton, 1912, Silverdale, 1913, Crackley, 1914, Podmore Hall (Minnie), 1915 New Hem Heath, 1915, Podmore Hall (Minnie), 1918. Walter died on 12th December 1923 in Stoke on Trent.



On the 4th March, 1908, a fire broke out at the Hemstead Colliery; 24 miners were entombed. The above named miners (together with John Welsby, who succumbed) descended the mine at various times at great personal risk to rescue the miners. They were provided with oxygen apparatus, but were unable to effect their object. His Majesty has been graciously pleased to allow the widow of John Welsby to receive the Medal which would have been granted to her husband.






Please note images and biographical information courtesy of Philip Clifford,