In memory of Terry Ainsworth and Bob Sharp of the Mortlake Engineers Department who died in a brave attempt at rescuing a colleague on 6th August 1975.
Their heroism was honoured by the Carnegie Hero Fund Trust
We could find nothing about this incident, until we asked Richmond Council's Local Studies Library and Archive. They very quickly found this clipping for us, from the Richmond Herald 12 October 1978:
"Watneys' Mortlake Brewery have erected a memorial to two of their engineers who died during a desperate rescue attempt in August 1975. The men, Terry Ainsworth and Bob Sharp, went to the aid of a colleague, Mr. William Caswell who collapsed while inspecting a sewage treatment tank in the brewery grounds. But the two men were overcome by the same poisonous fumes that had affected Mr. Caswell and all three died in the 18 inches of effluent at the bottom of the tank. Responsibility for the incident, described as the worst in living memory at the brewery, rested with the firm of contractors who were building the sewage system. The picture shows on the left, the Reverend Ian Cundy, the Rector of Mortlake who dedicated the memorial, and on the right brewery director Peter Humphrey. also present were relatives and friends."
We note that the firm of contractors held responsible are not named. Also, we are certain that we have heard of deaths under very similar circumstances on farms, involving slurry tanks. But not recently so perhaps Health and Safety moved in and enforced some sensible working practices.
Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library & Archive. When referencing the cutting, it is: Vertical File - Mortlake High Street – Watney’s Brewery – Newscuttings 1. The cutting is from the Richmond Herald 12 October 1978.
Site: Watney's Mortlake Stag Brewery (2 memorials)
SW14, Lower Richmond Road, Mortlake / Stag Brewery
Brewery History gives the history as: Phillips, More & Co. Ltd, Mortlake Brewery, 14 Mortlake High Street, London SW14. Founded at the near-by Manor House in the 15th Century. Acquired by Charles James Phillips in the 1840s. Registered in June 1888 as More & Co. Ltd. Acquired by Watney & Co. Ltd. in 1889. Watney amalgamated with Combe's and Reid's in 1898 to form Watney, Combe, Reid & Co. Ltd.
The Mortlake Brewery was renamed the Stag Brewery in 1959 after the closure of Watney’s Stag Brewery in Pimlico. After further changes of ownership (Elders XL 1990, Courage brewing 1991, ABInBev 2002), ABInBev closed the Mortlake Brewery and sold the site to developers in 2015.
So the war plaque was moved here from Pimlico probably in 1959.