A GEORGE Cross medal awarded to a hero train driver after he gave his life to save a catastrophic accident in Winsford has gone under the hammer.

The National Railway Museum has acquired the George Cross medal awarded posthumously to train driver Wallace ‘Wally’ Oakes for £60,000 at auction.

The bravery and quick thinking of Wallace on June 5, 1965 saved the lives of hundreds of passengers on the West Coast Mainline at Winsford.

The medal was introduced by King George VI and is the highest civilian honour. Only six railway workers have received the George Cross making it extremely rare.

The sale equals the record for historical railwayana, which was set in 2003 with the sale of the A4 Pacific locomotive nameplate ‘Golden Fleece’.

Andrew McLean, assistant director and head curator at the National Railway Museum, said: “I am delighted to confirm that the National Railway Museum has acquired the George Cross which was awarded posthumously to train driver Wallace Arnold Oakes in 1965.

“Wallace stayed on the footplate of a burning locomotive to bring his passenger train to a stop – an act of outstanding bravery which undoubtedly saved many lives.

“Sadly, he later died of his injuries and we plan to put this medal on display to recognise his heroism and to share his story which deserves to be more widely known by the public.

“During the age of steam working on the railways was a dangerous profession and accidents were unfortunately a common occurrence, so it is fitting that as well as commemorating Wallace’s incredible bravery, we recognise and remember all those who were killed or injured on the railways. I would like to thank the Friends of the National Railway Museum who were instrumental in bringing this rare and significant item into the National Collection.”

The Science Museum Group provided £30,000 towards the cost and the remaining £30,000 was provided by the Friends of the National Railway Museum.

As well as the George Cross, the lot also includes a Carnegie Medal and a British Railways citation recognising Wallace Oakes’ great bravery.

All items will be displayed to the public at the National Railway Museum in York.

Philip Benham, chairman of Friends of the National Railway Museum, said: “The gallantry of Wallace Oakes at great personal cost, is a courageous example of the dedication so often displayed by railwaymen and women, and it is fitting that his actions were recognised with the George Cross and Carnegie medals.”

The auction was held by Great Central Auctions and took place on September 2 at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire.