Percy Edwin Cook (1894 - 1927) had been a Metropolitan Police Officer for seven years when, on the 7th of October 1927, he bravely went to the aid of two stricken workmen employed the Notting Hill Electric Light Company, who had descended into an inspection chamber at the junction of Holland Park Avenue and Addison Avenue.
His plaque in Postman's Park reads, "P.C. Percy Edwin Cook, Metropolitan Police. Voluntarily Descended High Tension Chamber At Kensington To Rescue Two Workmen Overcome By Poisonous Gas. 7 Oct 1927.
Under the above headline, the Gloucester Citizen carried a full report on the tragedy in its edition of Saturday 8th October 1987
"Three men were fatally gassed in an electric inspection chamber at Notting Hill on Friday afternoon.
The chamber had not been opened for over 20 years.
Two of the men, employed by the Notting Hill Electric Light Company, entered the shaft leading to the chamber and were quickly overcome by gas, and a policeman lost his life in going to their assistance.
The dead men are Richard George Ball, 60, married, of Mersey-street, W.10; David Richard Williams. 23, lodging in Farmer-street, W,8, whose parents are stated to live in Union-street, Gelli Ystrad, Rhondda; and Police Constable Edwin Cook, 33, married, attached to the Notting Dale Police Station, and lived at Macfarlane-road, Shepherd's Bush.
Ball, a service layer, and Williams, a labourer, went, with another employee of the Notting Hill Electric Light Company to open the inspection chamber at the corner of Holland Park Avenue and Addison Avenue.
The chamber lies at the bottom of a vertical shaft, about 3ft 6in. square, descending to a depth of 25 feet. It was made that depth to carry the high tension cables well below the water mains and sewers in Holland Park Avenue.
It was sealed in 1905, and had not been opened since.
The cover was removed, and Ball went down by means of steps in the wall of the chamber.
He was followed by Williams.
SHOUTED FOR HELP
Apparently both men collapsed as soon as they got to the bottom.
Their fellow-workmen shouted for help, and Police-sergeant Joyner, of the Notting-hill police-station, and Police-constable Cook immediately ran up.
Looking down the shaft they could see one man who seemed to be sitting in water up to his waist.
Cook promptly volunteered to go down the shaft.
Sergeant Joyner pointed out the danger of doing so without a respirator, but Cook replied, "I don't want a respirator," and insisted on descending.
The sergeant helped to tie a handkerchief round his mouth and nostrils, and Cook, with the end of a chain twisted round his arm, the other end being held by Joyner, went down to the inspection chamber,
Joyner telephoned for assistance, and ambulance men and firemen soon arrived.
A fireman, wearing a gas mask, was lowered into the chamber.
He was immediately overcome, however, and was hauled up again.
He was taken to a nearby chemist's shop for treatment, and quickly recovered.
EFFORT TO SAVE LIVES
Other firemen then went down, and by means of ropes the three unconscious men were brought out.
A desperate effort was made to save their lives. For over two hours artificial respiration was tried, and then it had to be recognised that Ball and Williams were dead.
Dr. Broughton, police divisional surgeon and Dr. Webb, of Parsons-green, directed the efforts of ambulance men to save the life of Cook. At one time he seemed to recover, and oxygen was administered.
The doctors then decided to have him taken to hospital in the hope that he might revive.
He was conveyed to the West London Hospital in an ambulance, but there he was found to be dead.
Police-constable Cook served in the war, winning the Military Medal. He joined the Metropolitan Police Force seven years ago.
TRIBUTE TO DEAD CONSTABLE
BRAVELY MAINTAINED HIGH TRADITIONS OF THE FORCE
The heroism of Police Constable Cook, of the Metropolitan Police, who lost his life in a vain attempt to rescue two workmen who were overcome by gas fumes in an electric chamber at Addison-avenue, Holland Park, last night, was the subject of a special order by the Commissioner, Sir William Horwood, today.
It was read on parade at all stations.
The order was as follows:-
"The Commissioner regrets to announce the death of Police Constable Cook, F Division.
Bravely maintaining the high traditions of the Metropolitan Police, he sacrificed his life in attempting to rescue two members of the public.""