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The Vernon Lamb Archive, Working Men & Women
A Unique Photographic Record of Matlock & District, 1910-1915, and World War One Soldiers

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Place: Matlock
Property / Street / Road: -
Date: 1910 - 1914
Description/Historical Information: Charles Birch, accompanied by his dog on a lead, was a familiar sight in the Matlocks for many years. The sign, on string, round his neck says : Ladies and Gentlemen "Please pity the ----. I lost my sight whilst blasting at Cawdor Limestone Quarries Matlock"

In early 1907 it was reported that: "a shocking accident took place on Wednesday afternoon, at Cawdor Quarries, Matlock. A blaster, named Charles Birch, of Matlock Town, was setting a hole for firing when from some unaccountable reason it exploded, shattering his hands, arms and face. His face was so terribly injured that it is expected that he will lose his sight." He was taken by cab to see Dr. L'Estrange Orme, who, having dressed the injuries, ordered his removal to Whitworth, where he reportedly lay in a critical condition ("Derbyshire Times", 12 January 1907).

The year before he died someone had tried to swindle him out of the money he collected. Giving evidence, his son Herman of Holt Lane stated that he was "stone blind and made his living by collecting". His father had been standing in his usual spot outside the Midland Bank when the accused asked for "change" and was about to swap a piece of paper (instead of a £1 note) for all the change he had ("Derbyshire Times", 3 September 1927). The newspaper described the incident as a despicable theft.
Further information
elsewhere on this site:
- With his family in the 1901 census. They were at Riversdale in 1911, some with the surname Prime.
- Quarrying in the Matlocks
Image Reference: VLA5172
Copyright: © The Vernon Lamb Archive and Robert White.
See About the Archive and About Vernon Lamb, Photographer.