Order of Industrial Heroism

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'Order of Industrial Heroism' certificate awarded to Thomas "Derwydd" Thomas in 1933. Features a 1923 woodcut design by Eric Gill.

The Order of Industrial Heroism was a private civil award given in the United Kingdom by the Daily Herald newspaper to honour examples of heroism carried out by ordinary workers. Many of the 440 awards were posthumous. Only two were made to a woman; six were awarded to large groups of miners, under the auspices of their trade union lodges.

The medal of the Order was designed by sculptor Eric Gill and issued in bronze with a burgundy ribbon. The medal bears the image of Saint Christopher bearing the Christ Child.


Eric Gill's design as used on the 'Order Of Industrial Heroism' certificate, with red star, 1923

The Order was instituted in 1923[1][2] by the Daily Herald specifically to recognise the deeds of valour of those who had saved their fellow workers from danger or death. It was popularly known as the "Workers' VC".[3]

The institution of the medal was prompted by an incident in which four dockworkers helped control a major fire in the Liverpool docks, thereby saving the docks, shipping and a large part of the city, but were offered a reward of only £17, provoking a public outrage.[4]

Recipients were also given a monetary prize, and an Eric Gill designed certificate, depicting Saint Christopher, in front of a smoking chimney, carrying the Christ Child across water, towards a walled garden ("A Rose Plant in Jericho"[5]) with a red star overhead,[6][7][8] Certificates for individual men were inscribed:[9]

Presented as a mark of respect and admiration to [name] a brave man who in a moment of peril thought more of others than of himself

Later certificates used a variation on Gill's design.[9]

The Daily Herald was the official organ of the Trade Union Congress and one of the world's best-selling newspapers at the time.

The award was presented 440 times up to 1964, when the newspaper closed. Sometimes there were multiple awards relating to one event; six of the awards were to miners' union lodges, rather than individuals, where a large number of members had been involved in mine rescues.[10] Only one of the solo awardees, Ruth Stanaway, was a woman;[11] another, Sister Eileen M. S. Wiltshire, received one alongside three men.[12]

Eric Gill's original design for the 'Order Of Industrial Heroism' certificate, with dove, 1923

The Herald's records relating to the award, comprising nineteen boxes, are held in perpetuity in the Trades Union Congress Library Collections at London Metropolitan University.[13][14] The Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick holds correspondence about the possible continuation of the award, after 1964, in its TUC collection (Ref MSS.292B/790/2).[15]

Examples of the medal are in several museums, including the March & District Museum,[16] Abertillery and District Museum,[17] Dorman Museum,[18] and the National Museum Wales; [19] and one is in the House of Commons coins and medal collection; it was donated by Sir Arnold Wilson in 1938.[20]

The British Museum holds a specimen of the medal, with Gill's name inscribed on the rim.[21] It also has Gill's 1923 proof copy of the woodcut artwork used on the award's certificates, which has "The Holy Ghost as a dove" in the place of the eventual red star.[7][5] Other copies are in the Tate collection,[22] the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,[23] the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,[24] and the Hesburgh Library] at the University of Notre Dame.[25] The "dove" version was also published in Engravings by Eric Gill (1929).[5][26]

See also[edit]


Later form of the certificate, awarded to George Walker in 1961
  • Fevyer, W. H.; Wilson, J. W.; Cribb, J. E. (2000). The Order of Industrial Heroism. The Orders & Medals Research Society. ISBN 978-0-9539207-0-9.
  1. ^ Fevyer (2000).
  2. ^ TUC History Online
  3. ^ Mines Rescue: Order of Industrial Heroism
  4. ^ TUC
  5. ^ a b c "Eric Gill - Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism". 1stdibs.com. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  6. ^ "'The Order of Industrial Heroism' medal (at auction)". LOT-ART. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism". British Museum. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  8. ^ Fevyer, W. H. "The Worker's V.C.". Life Saving Awards Research Society Journal (34): 56–70.
  9. ^ a b See images
  10. ^ "List of Persons Awarded the Order of Industrial Heroism".
  11. ^ "Order of Industrial Heroism". TUC 150 Stories. Trades Union Congress. 26 January 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  12. ^ Fevyer (2000), p. 24.
  13. ^ "Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism". The National Archives. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism [records of award recipients 1923-1964]". London Metropolitan University. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  15. ^ "AIM 25, Vol. XIV" (PDF). Bodliean Library.
  16. ^ "The Haylock Room". March & District Museum. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Arthur Bobbett's Story". Abertillery and District Museum. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  18. ^ "The Order of Industrial Heroism". Safe and Sound - Stories of Emergency Response in the Tees Valley. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism medal". National Museum Wales. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Full list of Parliament's collection of medals and coins" (PDF). Parliament.
  21. ^ Fevyer (2000), p. 17.
  22. ^ "'Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism', Eric Gill, 1923". Tate. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  23. ^ "Collections Explorer - Object Detail (P.80-1948, id:2)". The Fitzwilliam Museum. 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Holy Ghost as Dove (printed in red), pl.55: Daily Herald Order of Industrial Heroism: D.189: St. Christopher (with extra wood engraving of smokestack printed in red; D. 190: Rose Plant of Jericho; D. 191: Wave; D. 192: - Eric Gill". Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Eric Gill Collection". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  26. ^ Cleverdon, Douglas (1929). Engravings by Eric Gill. Birmingham, England.

External links[edit]