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Child’s life lost despite heroic efforts of Hop Picker

Year 1872, H. Hilder

Read by Gina Flynn – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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September 16, 1872

Steel, Michael, Hop Picker.

Letter from H. Hilder, East Malling, Maidstone, 16th September, 1872.

I beg to call your attention to an act of great bravery performed by Michael Steel in attempting to save the life of Sarah Ann Allchin, aged 5, who fell into a draw-well at Sprigett’s Hill, East Malling, on the 11th September; the circumstances are briefly these.

The child whilst at play incautiously stepped upon the lid of the well, which was a sliding one and badly fitting, tilted up precipitating the child down the well; on alarm being raised the above named man rushed from a beer-house close by, threw off his jacket, seized the chain, and descended the well with fearful rapidity (the distance down to the water being seventy-five feet).

He grasped the child and kept it above water until assistance came, but unfortunately, while being drawn up, his own weight with that of the child caused the chain to break when raised up about thirty feet; he consequently dropped a second time into the water, and although the man was severely bruised as well as the child, he again brought it to the surface, and held it until ropes could be obtained, when they were drawn up, but from the elapse of time after the second immersion and injuries received, life could not be restored to the child.

The man with careful attention, was able to be removed to the Malling Union Infirmary on Friday last. He is a married man without family, and came from London for the purpose of hop picking.

Michael Steel’s Humanity was recognised with a Silver Medal

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