Fryston Colliery rescue was ‘heroic’

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The complete darkness and a 550 yard drop did not faze rescue worker Lister Addy, when he shunted himself down a precarious rope to save the life of a trapped miner in 1952.

Nearly 65 years on, his grand-daughter Karen Addy has been teaching his great-grandchildren Emily and Rebecca Hunt, nine and seven, about his heroic actions and the awards he achieved because of it.

The girls, who attend Airedale Junior School, have been learning about their brave grandfather’s story for a school project on the local history of mining.

Mr Addy was pit bottom deputy and head of the rescue team at Fryston Colliery on May 3, when shortly before dawn, there was a power failure at the site.

It wasn’t long before Mr Addy, of Townville, heard the cut had caused an accident.

His granddaughter Karen Addy said: “The cage that goes down to take the men to the pit bottom had railway carriages and sleepers in it as well as the men.

“There was a power cut and it jolted the cage, making it go on a funny angle.

“A railway sleeper slipped out of the cage and fell against the shaft wall, crushing a man called Jim Winterbottom.”

Mr Addy hoisted himself up a neighbouring shaft and made his way across to the accident zone. Now metres above the trapped cage, he hoisted himself down to reach Mr Winterbottom using only hazardous rope and the cage’s winding cable.

Miss Addy, 45, said: “He reached the cage but he had to climb down the side of it to the bottom level to reach Jim.

“When he got there, he had to lift up one of the carriages and pull Jim from under it.”

Mr Addy, who spent his entire life as a miner, before he passed away in 1977, received numerous awards as a result of his heroic actions.

He was the first person the current Queen ever presented with a George medal, at Buckingham Palace in 1953.

His other accolades include the Bronze Medallion of the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust and the Order of Industrial Heroism, awarded by the Daily Herald.

Miss Addy said: “The girls have been fascinated to learn about his story. All the family are incredibly proud of him.”

Emily’s project work can be seen at