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The plaque funded by the Australian Railways Historical Society commemorates the actions of railway fireman William Pearce during a locomotive boiler explosion at Thornton station in 1905.
For conspicuous bravery on December 4, 1905, ex-fireman William Henry Pearce, of the N.S.W. railways, was on July 16 presented by the Governor-General with the Royal Albert gold medal. Pearce was fireman of the engine of a passenger train between Maitland and Newcastle, when the plate of the boiler blew out near Thornton railway station, both driver and fireman being severely scalded. With a view to bringing the locomotive to a standstill Pearce — after placing the driver, who was in a bad way, in a position of safety — climbed over the cab of the engine to the front of the locomotive, and placing his left leg, which had been badly scalded in a draw hook, he leaned over a distance of about 8in., under the buffer plank, and exhausted the air, thereby bringing the train to a stoppage.
The driver of the engine subsequently died from the injuries he had received. The Royal Albert medal is equivalent to the Victoria Cross, and Pearce's is the first one in Australia. Pearce had already received the gold medal of the Royal Shipwreck Society; the Clarke gold medal of the Royal Humane Society of Australasia, the first of its kind presented in New South Wales, and on retiring him from the service the Railway Commissioner made him a gratuity of £1000. He is an Australian.
The Worker (Wagga, NSW), 25 July 1907.



Address:Karuah Street, Thornton Railway Station, Thornton, 2322
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -32.783485
Long: 151.639947
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State
Actual Event Start Date:04-December-1905
Actual Event End Date:04-December-1905


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 16th May, 2015
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au