b. 15/12/1863 Cockermouth, Cumberland. d. 28/12/1925 Whitehaven, Cumberland.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 11/05/1910 Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumberland.
William was born on 15th December 1863 in Cockermouth, the oldest of nine children born to Francis and Mary Ann Campbell (nee McPherson), who both hailed from Ireland originally. By the time William was 8, the family had moved to Workington, living at 45 Cavendish Street. They moved again in c.1875 to the Preston Quarter of Whitehaven, where William would spend the rest of his life. On 23rd December 1890, at St Beghs in Whitehaven, William married Elizabeth Rogan, who hailed from Cleator Moor, Cumberland, and they would have eleven children, the last born in 1908. Sadly, six of their children died before the age of 25.
By the time of his marriage, William was working as a coal miner at the Wellington Colliery, and the family lived at 20 Fox Lane in Whitehaven. In c.1892, William became a victualler and landlord of the Red Lion Public House in Marlborough Street and ran it alongside working in the mine. In 1902, he took over the licence for the Lifeboat Inn, which was also in Marlborough Street. By the time of his Edward Medal action at the Wellington Pit in May 1910, he was now a Deputy Overman whilst also running the Lifeboat Inn. The last few years of his life were filled with tragedy. In the three years before his own death, his wife, a son and a daughter all passed away. William died of a brain haemorrhage on 28th December 1925 and was buried in Whitehaven Cemetery.
On the llth 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—a 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.
BURIAL LOCATION: WHITEHAVEN CEMETERY, WHITEHAVEN. SECTION O GRAVE 163
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.
NO IMAGE AVAILABLE
William Campbell EM is seated on the far left in this picture