b. 01/10/1858 Upholland, Lancashire. d. 09/07/1912 Cadeby Colliery, Yorkshire.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 07/05/1910 Water Haigh Mine, Oulton, Yorkshire.
William was the 4th of 8 children born to James and Maria Pickering, on 1st October 1858 in Upholland, Lancashire. He was baptised on 22nd December 1858. His father was a wealthy man and was able to give his son a formal education at St Peter’s School, York. William then trained in engineering specialising in mining. He then passed first in his class in becoming an inspector of mines. In 1866 he was appointed an Assistant Inspector of Mines, and he travelled to India where he was a Chief Inspector of Mines. He returned to England, and eventually settled in Staffordshire, where he married Alice Mabel, and tbey had a son, Basil, born in 1887. He and his family then moved north to Yorkshire and settled in Doncaster. In 1910 he was awarded the Edward Medal for his part in the Water Haigh Mine accident near Oulton. Tragically less than two years later, he was killed in an explosion at the Cadeby Main Colliery, near Doncaster. He was buried in Hyde Park Cemetery, Doncaster.
A serious shaft accident occurred on the 7th May last, at the Water Haigh Mine, by which six men lost their lives. The mine, which ia situated at Oulton, about five miles east of Leeds, consists of four pits in course of sinking to develop a new mining area. Shaft No. 1 where the accident happened had been, sunk to a depth of 109 yards, and the work of lining it with brickwork was being proceeded with. Skeleton iron rings are used to support the shaft during the process and it is necessary to remove these as the work of the bricking progresses.
At about 8 A.M. on the day mentionsd, seven workmen, including a charge man, were standing on a heavy scaffold, secured by bolts into the side of the shaft, engaged in the work of removing one of the iron rings. The chargeman, evidently having noticed some indication of danger, sent one of the men to the surface to call the master sinker, and, shortly after he had left, the scaffold gave way. Five of the men were hurled to the bottom of the shaft, and killed on the spot; but one of them, Patrick McCarthy, met with a less merciful death, being trapped by the legs between the heavy scaffold and the side of the shaft and partly buried by shale falling from the side, where he lingered in agony for over seven hours. Persistent efforts were made to rescue McCarthy from his perilous position.
Silkstone, Moore, Hosey and Jones were among the first to descend the pit when it was known that an accident had happened. In response to McCarthy’s cries for help, they tried to release him in spite of imminent danger from falling stones and bricks, but they were obliged to return to the surface for tools. Mr. Hodges, who had by this time reached the mine, immediately went down the pit and decided to build a temporary scaffold. Moore was given charge of this work and carried it out with admirable coolness and resource.
Mr. Pickering, His Majesty’s Inspector of Mines, arrived on the scene just when this was completed, and accompanied by Mr. Hodges and Silkstone, Moore and Hosey, he entered the pit and reached the place where poor McCarthy was held a prisoner. In this descent Silkstone’s head was severely injured by a falling stone, and Mr. Hodges and Hosey were also slightly injured. They found McCarthy still alive but the water was rising fast in the shaft and had reached his shoulders. It was evident that he would soon be drowned and that nothing could be done further to rescue him unless the water were lowered. Mr. Pickering at once sent all his fellow rescuers to the surface to enable a larger “bowk” to be put on and more men to be sent down to bale the water. In the meantime Mr. Pickering resolutely stayed by McCarthy — now almost delirious with his sufferings — and supporting his head on his arms and breast, he administered such comfort as he could to the dying man. Realising that McCarthy could not live until the water was baled out. Mr. Pickering decided that the only hope was immediate amputation of the legs, and at his request Mr. Hodges brought down two doctors and a Roman Catholic Priest, but McCarthy’s terrible sufferings came to an end just as they reached him.
Mr. Pickering ran imminent risk of losing his life during the time that he stayed with McCarthy. Silkstone descended the pit no less than four times and did not desist until he had been severely injured. Mr. Hodges went down with three separate parties and displayed great bravery and skill in directing the work of the attempted rescue. Moore and Hosey also made three descents and showed great courage and presence of mind in face of danger, while Jones who organized the first rescue party was only prevented from continuing his brave endeavours by being injured so seriously that he could not return to work for six weeks.
BURIAL LOCATION: HYDE PARK CEMETERY, DONCASTER, YORKSHIRE.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.