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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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From The Western Times, Tuesday 6 May 1873 :


This ancient town was the scene of a destructive fire on Sunday morning which burnt down 15 houses, rendering a large number of persons homeless.


It appears that the wife of Mr Mortimore, the carrier, was disturbed between two and three on Sunday morning by hearing a noise proceeding from a horse in the stable immediately behind their bedroom.  She called her husband who, on going to the window, saw smoke rising from the chimney of Mr Tucker, the baker. He first thought someone must be at work there, but on going into the street, he found that such was not the case and therefore aroused the family but not before it was time, for Mr Tucker could not get down his stairs and on bursting open the front door, Mr Mortimore discovered the house to be full of smoke and that it was impossible for any of the family to get out.


Further alarm was raised, for by this time, the fire had spread so that the whole building was in flames and the family had to get out with difficulty through the bedroom windows. One of the children and the servant girl had a very narrow escape. The fire is supposed to have broken out in Mr Tucker's bedroom, or from the flues in the flour loft of the same building, which is in Fore street on the left hand side as one enters the town from the station. Dwelling houses, outhouses, stables, all were thatched, so that the fire soon gained such a complete mastery that it was impossible to check it or prevent it from spreading to the house of Mr. Mortimore, the carrier. These houses being enveloped in flames, the fire seized the Butcher's Arms adjoining, kept by Mr John Martin, butcher, when,  the wind shifting, the houses on the opposite side of the street were ignited.


Bradninch Fore Street Roger Carnfoot.jpg
Fore Street, Bradninch

These are the house which had to be rebuilt after the fire.

Previously, nearly all were thatched.

©Roger Carnfoot


The burning had then become dreadfully alarming and to add to it, the water supply fell short, so that the town engine was of little use, and messengers were despatched to Cullompton for assistance. Between 4 and 5 am, the West of England insurance Company engine and the Farmer's Office engine arrived but water had to be got from the other end of the town, while the firs was rushing on right and left with augmented fury. Its progress was, however, stopped on the right side of the street by stripping one of the slate-roofed houses which, strange to say, suffered the same fate in 1832, when 60 houses were destroyed. While this work was being done, the thatched houses in Back Street, immediately behind Mr. Tucker's bakehouse were ablaze, and two of them, as well as Mr Mortimore's stables were burnt down.




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