Burnley Express and Advertiser, July 6th 1918.

Burnley Driver’s Heroism Under Heavy Fire.

High distinctions have been conferred upon Driver Fred Nicholls (33), L474, R.F.A., of 5, Adland-street, Burnley. He has won the Military Medal for extreme gallantry and devotion to duty at —– farm and —– on April 9th. When the guns were withdrawn under rifle and shell fire from —– farm, and there were only five teams of six guns, his team brought away two guns on one limber across country and the very difficult circumstances. When his limber overturned, and the team got tied up in the harness, he took charge and righted the limber and team – all under rifle and shell fire. Lieut. – Col.  V. A. Batchelor, R.F.A., adds; I most strongly recommend this driver for the D.C.M. Lieut. – General de Lisle, commanding the XV. Corps, writes; “A report of your good and valuable service and devotion to duty has been forwarded to me, and I send you here with my heartfelt congratulations.” Driver Nicholls enlisted in the Howitzers three years ago. Before then he was a weaver at Keithley’s. He had attended Claremont School and was a footballer in his younger days. Two brothers are serving.


Burnley Express and Advertiser December 4th 1918.

Driver Fred Nicholls, No. L474, “C” Battery. 64th  Army Brigade, R.F.A. Extreme gallantry and devotion to duty at Barlette Farm and Bac-St.-Maur on April 9th. When the guns were withdrawn under rifle and shell fire from Barlette Farm, and they were only five teams for six guns, his team brought away two guns and one limber across country under very difficult circumstances. When his limber overturned and that team got tied up in the harness, he took charge and righted the limber and team – all under rifle and shell fire. Driver Nicholls home is in Adland-street.

Burnley Express and Advertiser December 4th 1918 

At the Palace Theater, on Monday evening, a very interesting ceremony  was performed, and the proceedings roused the large audience to enthusiasm. Three Burnley lads, Sergt. John Ratcliffe, Lce. Corpl. Harold Horne, and Driver Fred Nicholls – at the hands of the Mayor (Alderman R. Hargreaves) received Military Medals in recognition of their brave deeds and gallant devotion to duty. Accompanying his Worship on the stage where Aldermen McGregor, Sinclair (ex-mayor) and E. Whitehead, – Councillor Lawne and Mr. Wrigley (Deputy Town Clerk).


Manchester Courier Friday May 17th 1907.
Arthur Nichol, aged twenty-five, fireman at the Hill-top Mill, Burnley, died yesterday at the Victoria Hospital. On Monday while Nichol was in the engine house the cap of a steam economiser blew off, and he was severely scalded.

Burnley Express and Advertiser, May 18th 1907.


A shocking accident occurred on the premises of the Hill Top Mill Co., Burnley, on Monday. Arthur Nicholls (25) a firebeater, of Adland-street, went, so it is surmised – for no one saw the occurrence – to the economizers to tighten a cap bolt. This seems to have broken as he was in the act of tightening it, the cap flew off, and Nicholls was deluged with boiling water. Screaming with pain, he ran out of the Boiler House, and was met by a fellow workman, who rendered him all the assistance he could. The unfortunate young man was removed to the Victoria Hospital, where he died on Thursday.

Yesterday afternoon, at the Hospital, the Coroner held an inquiry relative to the death of Nicholls. Mr. Fullalove, represented the Hill Top Mill Company, and Mr. Taylor, the factory inspector, was also present

Mr. Fullalove, on behalf of the company, expressed their sincere sympathy at the untimely death of Nicholls. He understood he was a very good servant, and one who’s loss the company regretted.

John Thomas Nicholls, a blowing-room hand, and a brother of the deceased, gave evidence of identification. He saw him at the Hospital on Tuesday night, when he was conscious, but he did not tell him as to how he got hurt.

After having given evidence, the last witness asked the Coroner if he could have the inquiry adjourned until the family could be legally represented. The Widow could not attend, inasmuch as she was very ill.

The Coroner: I am representing you, I think.

Andrew Varley, under-carder in the employ of Hill Top Manufacturing Company, spoke to hearing Nicholls shouting and screaming. He ran to see what was the matter, and on asking him, he stated that he was scalded. Witness took him down to the watch-house and took off his clothes and rendered what assistance he could. A cab was fetched, and he was conveyed to the Hospital. Ongoing back to the place where he found Nichols there is a good deal of hot water and steam flying about in the neighborhood of the economisers.

James Whalley, the engine tester at the mill, stated that Nicholls worked under him. He did not know anything about the accident until he saw Nicholls being led away by the previous witness from the economisers. Witness had heard him shouting. When asked how the accident happened, he said a joint connecting with one of the economisers broke, and he was scalded in consequence. As soon as possible he stopped the engine and got rid of the steam in the economisers, when he found the cap of one of them had been blown off, and had caused the steam to escape. The cap was fastened by means of two bolts. One bolt apparently broke, and the pressure of the steam wrenched of the other. There was no leakage that witness was aware of. He was on the economisers earlier in the morning, but then saw nothing wrong. There might have been some slight leakage later in connection with that particular cap. It might be that something had been the matter, and that deceased had been touching one of the bolts with a screw-key. A spanner was found close by, and the cap, which had been blown off was also near at hand. It was deceased’s duty to acquaint him if anything was wrong.

Mr. Fullalove: He had no duty towards the economisers? – Witness: No. I have never seen him attempt to touch them before.

The Coroner: It was a very simple matter to tighten the cap? – Yes.

In answer to one of the jurymen, the engineer stated that the spanner was over two feet in length. The bolt should not have been tightened with the steam up.

The Factory Inspector here examined the broken bolt, and observed that he did not see anything wrong with it. It might have been “going” at one corner.

The Engineer: It is not an old bolt.

Dr. Taggart, the house surgeon at the Hospital, said that Nicholls was scalded about the arms, legs, side of the face, and the lower better part of the body. He died the previous day from shock.

The Coroner, in summing up the evidence, said Nicholls appeared to have been an active, steady Workman, and because of a breakdown earlier on Monday morning he and the engineer was rendered very busy. There was very little doubt that the man in trying to assist the engineer, knowing that he was busy, thought he could tighten the bolt himself.

A verdict of “Accidental death caused by the bolt breaking whilst deceased was tightening it,” was returned.


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