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THECHAPTER

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William Walton - A hero
« on: Mar 01, 2006, 22:38 »
Observant residents walking past the Town Hall Gardens will have noticed a memorial to William Walton, an overman at the Dean and Chapter Colliery.
William, aged 39, was returning home from Dean and Chapter colliery on the 8th August 1906 when he saw two boys playing with electrical wires.
He was electrocuted whilst saving  the children from a similar fate.
Attempts at artificial respiration were unsuccessful and he left a widow and four children.
Next August is the 100th anniversary of his death and it set the Editorial team at The Chapter to thinking that his actions actually altered history.
If he hadn't saved the boys,  they may have died.
In the event they probably married and had children and grandchildren of their own.
Point is, that if it wern't for the overman's action a couple of generations may not have even been born - and we think that's a good reason to commemorate the event!
Any historians out there?
Does anyone know the names of the lads he saved?
Are there any decendants of William Walton left around the area?
Any help will be gratefully received.

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re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #1 on: Mar 01, 2006, 22:54 »
From The Northern Echo 8th June 2005

William, 39, worked at the Dean and Chapter Colliery, to the west of Ferryhill. Coal had been won there in 1903 and although only a few hundred were employed in William's day, it would become one of the biggest collieries in the NorthEast. During both world wars, it employed 3,000 men and even at the start of the 1960s, more than 2,000 people worked there.

It closed in 1966.

On the day in question 60 years earlier, William, an overman, was walking home from the pit when he saw two boys swinging from an overhead electricity cable.

The pit generated its own electricity at the pithead.

Overhead cables, held up by poles and wrapped around a guide wire, ran the 500 volt current through the colliery village of Dean Bank to power a pugmill (where clay and water were mixed to create a useful paste).

Of course, the cables were insulated, but, according to evidence presented to the inquest, it appeared that swinging on the cables was a popular activity among the children. This had caused the insulation to wear away and, from the sparks, William could see that the guide wire the boys were swinging on had become live.

This column's knowledge of electricity is very rudimentary.

It just about runs to changing a plug. But, as we understand it, it would only have been when the boys earthed themselves by touching the ground, or something in contact with the ground, that they would have been in serious danger.

So William ran, jumped up and tried to shake the boys off the line. "But he then fell to the ground hanging by the wire, " reported The Northern Echo.

The 500 volts would now have been running through him.

His friend, John Race, attempted to snap the wire, but was tossed across the road by a shock. He then hurled missiles at the wire in an attempt to break it.

A colliery deputy, WH Thompson, rushed to pull William clear, but he too was thrown off by the current.

When he regained his composure, he dashed to the pithead to turn the generator off.

"When he came back to the spot, the deceased and the boys were laid on the ground, and the doctors, PC Whaley, and others were attempting to restore animation, " reported the Echo.

"The deceased never showed any sign of life, but the boys came round."

The report concluded: "The Coroner said the act of the deceased was a very gallant one. He lost his life in saving the children."

The coroner recorded a verdict of "accidentally killed by an electric current".

William's colleagues paid for a stone memorial to be erected in the garden beside Ferryhill Town Hall. Once the memorial had a slender obelisk rising from its top, but that has since disappeared. And now ivy is creeping over the memorial's face so that soon its writing will also disappear.

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You

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Re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #2 on: Mar 02, 2006, 05:18 »
Quote from: THECHAPTER

Next August is the 100th anniversary of his death


What an excellent concept for an article in the Chapter!!

I'll look forward to reading it.

I'm always amazed that there is so much happening in Ferryhill and Chilton to fill 8 pages every week and more than a little envious that you have a team of volunteers who are prepared to put so much time and effort into it.  I know how much work goes into doing regular newsletters and you have my uttermost respect.  Keep up the good work!!

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sue123

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re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #3 on: Mar 02, 2006, 12:21 »
This Is a great local story for The Chapter, I lived in Ferryhill till I was 23years old and have never been told of this brave man. Schools should have been telling their pupils of local heros like William.The pit and its people are partof our heritage. Maybe some teachers out there will see what local history means to the community. I really enjoy the Chapter and have respect to all who produce it Sue

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THECHAPTER

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Re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #4 on: Mar 02, 2006, 14:22 »
More volunteers are always welcome and the more interesting the paper (and the website) becomes.

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You

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Re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #5 on: Mar 02, 2006, 15:03 »
Quote from: THECHAPTER
More volunteers are always welcome and the more interesting the paper (and the website) becomes.


If you ever need a hand designing adverts etc I'm more than willing to help you out.  I have a number of years experience in Marketing and IT.

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allblack

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re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #6 on: Mar 05, 2006, 17:46 »
So do we know the names of the two boys involved?

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THECHAPTER

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Re: re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #7 on: Mar 05, 2006, 19:12 »
Quote from: allblack
So do we know the names of the two boys involved?


Or any descendants of William Walton himself!

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THECHAPTER

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re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #8 on: Apr 10, 2006, 23:11 »
Local historians may like to know that the Chapter has established that William Walton was buried in Duncombe Cemetery after tragically saving the lives of the two boys.
On his headstone however it says he died saving "two colleagues" probably indicating that the lads were youngsters employed down the pit. It also mentions his widow, Margaret.
Unfortunately we've now run into a stone wall.
The Dean and Chapter pit wasn't sunk until about 1902. The nearest records to that is the 1901 census and a swift search through that doesn't throw up a William Walton or his wife Margaret in Ferryhill or, as far as we can see, anywhere else nearby.
If he was a miner in 1902, he would be working down another pit, But where?
As a miner he would also probably be living in a Pit House.
Presumably his widow would have to leave with her family after husband's death. (There was no compassion in those days!)
Would she have gone back to Mum and Dad's or to other family members?
The children of the marriage would have, almost certainly, died by now, , so any living descendant would be a grandchild or great grandchild.
Any ideas out there?
Anyone near the Durham Records office?
The Weekly Auckland Chronical would certainly have reported on the incident and the Record's Office have that on file.
They would very probably have followed it up with report on the funeral, including those who attended.
Would the two lads who's lives he saved be mentioned in the article, if there is one.
Amateur genealogist's and detectives to the fore!

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pikeman

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Re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2006, 14:05 »
Hello I have been doing a lot of research in this matter for the town council but have come to a stop as the family dissapear after William's death so if any one has any information I would be grateful, we know they lived in Newton st at the time of his death and he had four children we have established the Nichol Simpson was one of the boys rescued but not the name of the other boy Nichols son was  the late Bobby Simpson landlord of the White Horse if anyone knows Christine or Julie his daughters could they ask them to contact the town hall.
We are now looking to see if we can find decendants of John Race who was at the scene and a friend of William
or of Mr Ross the colliery manager
or Mt Tait the under manager
or Mt Owens the fore over manager or Mr Philliips the cashier
any of which might know the where abouts of William's family
I have researched far and wide but come up with nothing.
The council are wanting to do a presention at this years gala as it is one hundred years since the incdent.
Any one with any information contact me  via email please sootodd@swanns.freeserve.co.uk thanks

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Re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2006, 16:18 »
I went to school with a Sally Walton, not sure if she's any relation. I believe she was a farmer's daughter, if I remember correctly. I also remember Bobby Simpson when he was landlord of the White Horse. His daughter Julie is married to Jeff Gash I believe (big Boro fan), shouldn't be too hard to find.



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Re: William Walton - A hero
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2006, 16:43 »
Possibles from the 1901 census (census parish in bold) :

 William Walton 33 Durham Easington Lane Durham Hetton Le Hole Coal Hewer
 William Walton 33 Merrington Durham Durham Bishop Auckland Green Cartman
 William Walton 34 Cumberland Nenthead Durham Crook & Billy Row Coal Miner Hewer
 William Walton 34 Durham Plawsworth Durham Chester Le St Coal Miner Hewer
 William Walton 34 Medomsley Durham Durham Medomsley Coal Miner
 William Walton 34 Stanhope Durham Durham Ryton Coal Miner Hewer
 William Walton 36 Co Cumberland Alston Durham Medomsley Coal Miner Hewer
 William J Walton 36 Durham Spennymoor Durham Whitworth Coal Miner Under

Looking at the entry in red :

RG13/4698 Folio 117? Page 43 Schedule 117 No 256
Pine Street, Chester le Street

William Walton Head Married 34 Coal Miner Hewer Durham Plawsworth
Margt E Walton Wife Married 29 Durham Broom Farm
Mary Walton Daughter Single 10 Durham Chester Moor
Thomas Walton Son Single 7 Durham Chester Moor
Elizabeth Walton Daughter Single 3 Durham Chester Moor
Catherine Walton Daughter Single 1 Durham Chester Moor

The right number of kids, right age, right wife's christian name. Looks good.

So if the family vanished after William's death, the first place to look would be back at Chester-le-Street I think.

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