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Factory Worker saves three colleagues from dangerous tar still

Year 1900

Read by Marcus Budgen – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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Allen, William, Factory Worker, Wear Fuel Company, Sunderland.

Stanhope Gold Medal 1900

At 7 a.m. On the 15th March, 1900, Francis McLeod, a fitter in the employ of the Wear Fuel Company, Sunderland, entered a tar still for the purpose of making some repairs. The still is 9 feet 6 inches in diameter and 8 feet 6 inches deep.

McLeod acted against instructions in entering the still at the time, it being hot from previous use and in a most dangerous condition from the gaseous fumes being given off, and he at once fell down in an unconscious state. Richard Lawson at once went in to his assistance, but was also overcome. John Weddle then went in, but shared the fate of the others – being at once rendered insensible.

William Allen now went in with a rope, and was successful in bringing McLeod out. Going in a second time, he succeeded in like manner in bringing up Weddle. Going in for a third time, he managed to place the rope round Lawson but was so overcome with the fumes that he had much difficulty in reaching the outside. It was then found that Lawson’s feet were fast in some machinery at the bottom of the still, and Allen for the fourth time went in and freed him so that he could be pulled out.

All the men were much affected, and Allen ran great risk in entering the still four times, knowing as he did the danger of doing so.

The Silver Medal was voted to William Allen, and Bronze Medals to John Weddle and Richard Lawson.

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