Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Postman's Park (13): death in a distillery well


In addition to their tribute in the Watts Memorial, three Stratford distillery workers who died trying to rescue their colleagues are also honoured near the scene of the tragedy. Godfrey Maule Nicholson was the manager of Nicholson's Gin Distillery; not yet 30 at the time of his death, he may have been a member of the owning family. He, George Elliott and Robert Underhill all died on 12 July 1901 trying to rescue a colleague, Thomas Pickett.

Their memorial on Three Mills Green (which replaced the mediaeval-style Victorian original) is of one arm clasping another, sculpted by Alec Peever in 2001. An inscription behind it states 'Of your charity pray for the souls of Thomas Pickett, Godfrey Maule Nicholson, Frederick Eliott and Robert Underhill, who lost their lives in a well beneath this spot on 12 July 1901. The first named while in the execution of his duty was overcome by foul air. The three latter successively descending in heroic efforts to save their comrades shared the same death.'

The works were also known as the 'Three Mills Distillery' and continued in operation until 1941; they are now the Three Mills Studios. In the words of the Watts Memorial:

GODFREY MAULE NICHOLSON, MANAGER OF A STRATFORD DISTILLERY, GEORGE ELLIOTT AND ROBERT UNDERHILL, WORKMEN, SUCCESSIVELY WENT DOWN A WELL TO RESCUE COMRADES AND WERE POISONED BY GAS, JULY 12 1901.

For all Postman's Park posts, click here.

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