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The North Staffs Colliery Owners Association set up their first mines rescue station, in a converted house at Stoke in 1911.
Walter Clifford was appointed as the first Chief Superintendent and was given equipment consisting of;
  • 6 PROTO Breathing Apparatus
  • 6 Electric hand lamps
  • 1 Hand lever pump (for charging oxygen cylinders)
  • And several oxygen cylinders plus a few spares for the apparatus

Walter Clifford
Walter Clifford

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, Jammage 1911, Henesford 1911, Norton 1912, Silverdale 1913, Crackley 1914, Minnie 1915, New Hem Heath 1915, Minnie 1918.
Walter died on 12th December 1923 in Stoke-on-Trent.

Colliery Rescue Work
Breathing apparatus and its Employment
Practical Paper by Mr. W. Clifford
Arthur Bernard Clifford, son of Walter Clifford was educated at Barnsley Grammar School and later studied at the Technical College in north Staffordshire.
By 1912 he was assistant Instructor to his father in North Staffs and had become an expert in the use of Proto breathing apparatus.
Arthur, like his father, possessed the Staffordshire Knot medal including 5 bars for rescue at: Jammage 1911, Norton 1912, Silverdale 1913, Crackley 1914, Minnie 1918.

As part of his annual report, under Rescue Stations, H.M. Inspector of Mines said:
"The temporary premises mentioned in a previous report as having being secured by the North Staffs Coal Owners association for a rescue station at Stoke-on-Trent, having proved to be inadequate for the purpose, the Station has been transferred to Berryhill Colliery."

The premises consist of a smoke chamber 15feet x 11 feet 6 inches, with an extension gallery 37 feet x 9, and a store 30 feet x 15 feet in which the apparatus is kept.

The extension gallery is fitted with an elevated platform with steeply inclined approaches and in this men undergoing training, build brick stoppings, set timber and canvas, and go through stretcher drill.

Both the smoke chamber and the extension gallery can be filled with sulphur fumes during the practises. The station is in charge of an instructor and assistant and two brigades of six men each undergo training per day.

In May 1912 the Home Office issued a new order for rescue and aid in mines. The order is to apply to all mines in which coal is worked

There shall be organised and maintained at every mine as soon as reasonably practicable competent rescue brigades on the following scale:
" Where the number of underground employees is 250 or less 1 Brigade.
" Where the number of underground employees is more than 250 but not more than 700 2 Brigades.
" Where the number of underground employees is more than 700 but not more than 1,000 3 brigades.
" Where the number of underground employees is more than 1,000 4 Brigades.

But the owner, agent or manager of the mine at which the total number of underground employees is less than 100 shall be deemed to have complied with this provision if he has acquired the privilege of calling for a brigade from a central rescue station.

There shall also be provided and maintained at every mine which maintains a rescue brigade or brigades:
(1) Two or more small birds or mice for testing for carbon monoxide.
(2) Two electric hand lamps for each brigade ready for immediate use, and capable of giving light for at least four hours.
(3) One oxygen reviving apparatus.
(4) A safety lamp for each member of the rescue brigade for testing for fire damp.
(5) An ambulance box provided by the St. John Ambulance Association, or similar box together with antiseptic solution and fresh drinking water.

There shall be kept and maintained in every central rescue station not less than fifteen complete suits of breathing apparatus, with means of supplying sufficient oxygen or liquid air to enable such apparatus to be constantly used for two days and of charging such apparatus.

Twenty electric hand-lamps, four oxygen reviving apparatus, an ambulance box or boxes provided by the St. John Ambulance Association or similar boxes together with antiseptic solution and fresh drinking water.

Cages of small birds: a motorcar shall be kept in constant readiness: and every central rescue shall be placed under the immediate control of a competent person conversant with the use of the appliances.

In a memorandum the Home Secretary states that the order comes into force at once, and it will be necessary, therefore, for each owner to take steps without delay to comply with the requirements or the order.
Reasonable time will be allowed in which to complete the formation of the rescue brigades and to obtain the requisite supply of breathing apparatus.

Pit Terminology - Glossary


History of Mines Rescue



List of Stations