Friday, April 3, 2009

Nelson Man killed in White Lund Explosion

Firth Dole 1885 to 1917

Edna Dole was the only daughter of Firth Dole and Margaret Dole nee Shackleton.

She was born in 1908 at Nelson, Lancashire.

She would live a long and happy life, her greatest love was singing. There would always be a party at Edna's house, a sing along around the piano. She lived through two world wars and saw many changes in her lifetime. She died in 2003 at the age of 94.

Edna's father Firth was one of nine children born to James J dole and Alice Dole nee Boothman. James J dole was born in 1853 in Sheffeild,Yorkshire. His wife Alice was also from Yorkshire, Navenby. They were both living with their families in Nelson at the time of their marriage in 1873.

I found Firth in the 1891 census for England. He was six years old and living with his family at 18 Russell Street, Nelson. James J Dole his father was listed in the census as a Plummer Glazier Gasfitter. Three of his brothers were listed as Cotton weavers; J.S.J aged 16, Charles 13 and 11 year old Louis. The town Nelson developed around the cotton mills. 11 year old Louis would not have had much education before he was set to work in the cotton mills.

In 1901 i found Firth again in the English census. He is 16 years and listed as a Joiner Glazier. The Dole family are still in Nelson but living at 19 Lomashire Road.

In 1908, 23 year old Firth marries Margaret Shackleton a local girl. Their daughter Edna is born at the end of that year.

The new decade brings war to that mill town in 1914. Nelson and its neighbour towns would lose many sons.

Firths younger brothers enlist .Fred in the Cheshire regiment. He would earn the Victory Medal serving as a private.

Albert enlisted with the East Surrey Regiment. He earned the Victory Medal and the British but lost his life on the 23rd of July 1916 aged 30.

Firth didn't enlist; England still needed some of its sons to remain on the home front. He was employed as a fireman at the White Lund munitions factory in Morecambe. The factory had opened in 1916. It had employed around 8000 people, filling shell cases with explosives.

On the night of the 1st October 1917 there was a huge explosion at the factory. Most of the workers got out unhurt but Firth, as a works fireman would be one of 10 who lost their life that evening. The blast was so powerful it was felt over in Burnley.

The factory was so wrecked by the explosion that it was out of commission for the rest of the war. The cause was never found though some suspected spy action or Zeppelin air raid.

Edna and her Mother remained in Nelson. Margaret Dole would live to the age of 92. They would always live close to each other and Margaret would be a much loved Grandmother to Edna's three daughters.

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