PRONOUNCED dead following the worst disaster in the history of Consett steelworks, a blast furnace man lay motionless on a slab at the mortuary.

He and 11 others had been overcome by deadly carbon monoxide which had seeped out unnoticed into their workstations.

Overcome by the poisonous gas, they fell where they stood.

Later, their bodies tagged, their families had been informed and were coming to terms with the tragedy.

But then Joseph Foreman woke up.

The Northern Echo:

Joseph Foreman 

The ‘miraculous’ Second Coming was recounted by Durham County Councillor Alex Watson, who at the time of disaster, in July 1950, was an eight-year-old boy.

Cllr Watson said: “He was overcome by the gas fumes.

“After being pronounced deceased during the blast furnace tragedy of 1950 he was placed in the morgue, dead, but a doctor on his rounds visiting the mortuary discovered Joe alive and awakened from the dead.

“He could have quite easily buried or burnt alive. It is serious really.

“Hell’s bells, to be pronounced dead and put in the morgue and to wake up there.

“It was his Second Coming. I think he thought he was Jesus Christ as he rose from the dead.”

Mr Foreman, a married father-of-two, lived in nearby Delves Lane.

The Northern Echo:

Councillor Alex Watson 

Cllr Watson said: “His family had been informed and he was in the morgue.

“There was devastation and real distress, but that turned to elation after that to find out he was still alive.”

Mr Foreman had served in the British Army for 21 years, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major and fought in the Second World War.

His actual death came 41 years after his first, in June 1991, around year after his nephew, became the leader of Derwentside District Council.

Hero steelworker who died saving workmates 

Cllr Watson said: “The cloth that covered his face in the morgue was referred to as ‘the shroud’.

“Joe left instructions that that shroud was used to cover him in his final resting place in the coffin and his wishes were carried out.

“After the cremation on July 2, 1991, his ashes were scattered in the grounds of Mountsett.

“What happened to him all of those year earlier never bothered him at all. He was never frightened of death.

“It is part of our family history now.”