If we could be heroes…just for one day

If you saw someone fall onto a train track what would you do? If you saw someone fall into a lake and couldn’t swim what would you do? If you saw someone on fire what would you do?

Is there a hero inside us all? Would you put your own life at risk to save someone else without even thinking of the consequences? Many people do. Think of the stories which which came from the 7th July bombings in London of many brave and heroic actions during the aftermath.

What is it which makes us want to help and why do we do it? Which leads us onto this blog. It is about heroism and it leads us into a little mystery here at the museum.

A token of appreciation

This bracelet does not look like much but it hides a very special story. Engraved on the side of the bracelet is the text:

‘Mr. Jos. Barnes for jumping into the river and saving a woman from drowning, 3rd July, 1852’

I have no idea who Mr. Barnes was and even less of an idea which river he jumped in. Searching local census records and newspapers of the period bring no solution to this riddle and worst of all, it is impossible to find out anything about this woman. Did she fall from a bridge? Did she fall from a bank? Was she a rich damsel and he a working class hero? Was she pushed? So many question yet not a single answer. The only thing for certain is that this gentleman had no qualms on his own life when he jumped in and saved this woman.

This is one of the objects which really intrigues me here in the museum. There are so many questions I want to know about it but almost impossible to find out. It doesn’t matter though. The most important information is on the bracelet. He saved the woman from drowning and was given this for his troubles.


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Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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