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Lancaster City Museum buys rare bravery medal

One of the four Edward Medals, awarded to the people who displayed bravery and courage during the White Lund munitions factory explosion of 1917.

One of the four Edward Medals, awarded to the people who displayed bravery and courage during the White Lund munitions factory explosion of 1917.

A rare bravery medal has been secured at auction by Lancaster City Museum for their display to commemorate the heroes of the White Lund Minitions factory explosion in 1917.

The silver Edward Medal is said to be rarer than the Victoria Cross.

Just 25 silver Edward medals were awarded between 1907 and 1949, four of which relate to the factory disaster.

This particular medal acquired was given to Police Sergeant Thomas Coppard for saving a number of lives amidst fire and explosions at the factory.

Friends of the Museum raised more than £3,000 from local fundraising to buy the medal at auction.

Heather Dowler, manager at the City Museum, said: “We heard that the medal was coming up at auction and knew straight away that we really wanted to acquire it for the museum, as the White Lund explosion was such a major event in the area’s wartime history.

“It was all a bit last-minute, but the Friends of the Museum did a fantastic job in raising just over £3,000 from local fundraising, and the balance of the £3,690 auction price will come from our acquisition budget.

“It feels right for the medal to come back to Lancaster. The explosion was a terrible event, with ten men killed, and both munitions staff and rescuers showed enormous courage.”

The four silver Edward Medals for the White Lund explosion were awarded to: Thomas Kew, an engine driver, who shunted 49 ammunition trucks holding 250,000 live shells out of the danger zone, Thomas Tattersall, works fireman, for bravery, Abraham Clark Graham, munitions worker, for bravery and also Police Sergeant Thomas Coppard.

Staff are hoping to put the medal on display by October 1 which is the 97th anniversary of the White Lund explosion.

On behalf of the museum’s Friends, Alan Sandham said: “Helping to bring such a rare and important piece of history back to Lancaster is exactly the sort of initiative our Friends are here for.

“We are very happy to see this ambition fulfilled.”

The City Museum opening hours are from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, admission is free.

For more information about Lancaster City Museum, please phone 01524 64637 or email lancastercitymuseum@lancashire.gov.uk.

Alternatively, please visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/acs/sites/museums.

 

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