A testimonial to a heroic landlord who saved two brothers from the freezing waters of a canal features in an upcoming Lichfield auction.

The certificate issued to John Lamb
The certificate issued to John Lamb

The vellum certificate was awarded by the Royal Humane Society on 18th February 1891 to Brownhills publican John Lamb.

A month before he had braved the frozen Birmingham Canal to rescue local boys Cecil and Francis Price.

The Ogley Hay youngsters had ventured out onto the ice but it cracked open, leaving them at the mercy of freezing water eight feet deep.

Mr Lamb, publican of the adjacent Pier Hotel, ran to help and, although the surface also gave way under him, saved the boys from drowning.

His gallantry was recognised by the Royal Humane Society, whose patron was Queen Victoria.

The testimonial features in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ upcoming sale on 15th June.

“It may have happened 130 years ago but the story of John Lamb and his rescue of the Price brothers still strikes a chord and such an incident would surely hit the headlines today.

“Plunging through the ice on a frozen canal must have been a nightmarish experience and one which they almost certainly would not have survived had it not been for Mr Lamb.

“We don’t expect the certificate to necessarily sell for a huge amount of money, it’s simply a wonderful example of the wealth of local history which can turn up at auction.”

Richard Winterton
The Pier Hotel
The Pier Hotel

In his mid-30s at the time of the rescue, records show that John Lamb was still the landlord of the Pier Hotel in 1914.

Now long since demolished, the inn stood on the corner of Pier Street next to the Birmingham Canal and was originally called the Fortunes of War.

The full catalogue of items going under the hammer, including collectable military medals and a wooden propellor for a Tiger Moth or Chipmunk aeroplane, is available to view online.