Ambulance Teams

Winners of the Wood Shield at Eshald House in 1930. Left to right are Joseph Alfred Madeley, Herbert Field, Arthur Field (Instructor), F.Wilson and William Madeley (Captain). Photo courtesy of Ben Williams.

In 1930 a team from Water Haigh were the proud winners of the Yorkshire Collieries Ambulance Competition. The photograph above was taken by Butler’s of Castleford outside the entrance to Eshald House, the home of Water Haigh’s manager, Dennis Walter Hargreaves. It was published in the Wakefield Express on 5 November 1930 to coincide with a celebratory dinner which was held at the Miners’ Welfare in Oulton. 

The competiton had been held earlier in the year with the final taking place at Unity Hall in Wakefield on 31 May. Water Haigh had been the finalists from the Castleford area and they competed against the winners from the Leeds, Barnsley and Rotherham areas. The impressive Wood Shield was presented to Water Haigh’s winning team by E. Schofield from Primrose Hill Colliery at Swillington which had won it the previous year.

The shield was originally competed for in 1907. It was donated and named after colliery owner Edward Wood, who became the Conservative M.P. for Ripon in 1910 and later, as Viscount Halifax, was foreign secretary in Neville Chamberlain’s government at the start of the Second World War.

Wood Shield individual medal.

Points were awarded to each team based on a group stretcher test and tests of each individual member. In the final 360 points were available with Water Haigh earning 260. Local rivals, Rothwell’s Fanny Pit, came fourth with 205 points. Waleswood Colliery near Rotherham were second with 240 and Barnsley’s Woolley Colliery came third with 226. Such was its importance that news of the competition was reported nationally in the Colliery Guardian newspaper. 

The Instructor, Arthur Field, was born at Carlton and was 50 years old in 1930. His son Herbert was 27. Before he moved to Water Haigh in 1914 Arthur had worked at Belle Isle pit and in 1911 was living at Woodland Crescent in Rothwell Haigh. His father and two brothers were also miners. Arthur’s wife Clara and two of his daughters, Evelyn and Ethel, were all born in Rothwell. As a young man he was a keen angler, winning many trophies, and he played for the Rothwell White Rose football team during its heyday.

Arthur’s training in first aid came during the First World War when he served for four years with the Royal Army Medical Corps. After the war he became a deputy and moved into one of the houses allocated to deputies on Aberford Road opposite Eshald House in Woodlesford.

Before winning the senior trophy a Water Haigh team had won the Junior Wood Shield in 1923. Arthur was also in charge on that occasion and the team consisted of A. Corbridge, B Madeley, W. Wrigglesworth, and Herbert Field.

Just before his sudden death, whilst on holiday in Bridlington in August 1939, Arthur had been giving first aid classes to 60 local Air Raid Precautions wardens. 

William Madeley, 37, and Joseph Alfred Madeley, 34, were brothers who lived at 16 Aberford Road. Their father, John, who came from Dudley in Staffordshire, had also been a miner. Their mother, Alice, came from nearby Wordsley in Worcestershire. In 1911 the family were living at East Street in Altofts so its possible the brothers and their father had worked at one of the other Briggs pits before moving to Water Haigh. 

(Woolley Colliery is where the National Union of Miner’s leader Arthur Scargill started work in 1953.)

Arthur Field (centre) collecting for the Oulton and Woodlesford Hospitals Committee in the 1920s. Billy Williams, the future manager of Water Haigh is on the right.