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The Southcombe Street garden

This pretty (and public) garden marks the site of the devastating fire which took place in 1970.

© Richard J. Brine


From The Express & Echo

Monday May 18 1970


Six thatched cottages were damaged in the picturesque Dartmoor village of Chagford on Saturday night. No one was injured but the damage is expected to exceed £10000. It was the village's worst fire for nearly 30 years.

Grimy-face young people and villagers fought throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning to rescue furniture and other belongings from the fire-ravaged cottages in Southcombe Street, Chagford's main street.

Afterwards Divisional Fire Officer, Bob Chandler of Torquay, said:
"It was the best concerted effort I have ever seen. The occupants of the cottages owe them a great debt."

The fire quickly spread from one cottage to others. The roofs of four cottages were completely destroyed and the rest of the cottages were water-logged.

One of the properties damaged was the 750-year-old Bishop's House, thought to  be the oldest building in the village.

The fire was discovered at 11 o'clock on Saturday night by Mrs. Pat Rowe who occupied the second floor of one of the cottages, all of which are three-storey buildings. Mrs Rowe, who is in her 30s said: "I was in my sitting room and just happened to see smoke coming from the ceiling. I went upstairs and discovered the fire.

She said the whole village had been marvellous. A Youth Club leader, Mrs. Pauline Fletcher, sent two boys on bicycles around the village to alert members of  Chagford Youth Club.  About 20 of them  joined villagers carrying belongings from the cottages.

Firemen from Chagford, Moretonhampstead, Okehampton Noth Tawton,  Bovey Tracey and Newton Abbot and Hatherleigh - nine engines altogether - under the Assistant  Chief officer at  at Devon Fire headquarters, Mr. D. R. Marsden, fought the blaze.

The road through Chagford was blocked  for about 10 hours , during the fire and after, while Devon County workmen cleared  away the burnt thatch.

Firemen were  given bread and cheese and hot coffee and soup at Moor Park Hotel by  Mr and Mrs Jerry Brigden.

Said Divisional Officer Chandler "They must have fed about 70 firemen. I went down to to leave my name so they could send an account but they would not hear of it."


The morning after the fire

The morning after the fire

courtesy of the Express & Echo.

The sign in the graden
©Richard J Brine


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