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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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From the Exeter Flying Post

11 November 1885


" A good deal of alarm was caused in Starcross early on Monday morning by a fire which broke out soon after one o'clock at the residence of a man named Butt, situated in Church Street.


The house formed one of a row of old buildings, mostly thatched, and the fire which was first observed in the roof spread with great rapidity. The inmates were soon aroused and made great efforts to subdue the flames, Messengers were despatched to Kenton and Exeter for the fire engines. In about an hour the Kenton engine arrived and was speedily put to work. Two hours later, the Sun and West of England engines arrived from Exeter.

By this time, the fire had complete  hold of five cottages, and all the firemen could do was to prevent the further spread of the flames. In this they were successful, but the five cottages and the bulk of their contents were destroyed.


The tenants who resided in the houses were John Butt, a marine store dealer and his wife and family; John Back, an invalid; Richard baker, a carpenter; and Miss Baker. A sixth house, inhabited by a man named Gosling was rendered untenable by water damage &c. 


The buildings were the property of Miss Penticost and were insured in the Norwich Union for £400. The fire is supposed to have originated through a hole in the chimney by the roof, and it is also conjectured that the thatch had been smouldering for a considerable while, as several persons living near experienced a strong smell of burning all Sunday. The total loss by the fire is estimated to be between £600 and £700. The loss to the cottagers is very serious as they are not insured, and nearly all they possessed was destroyed.


The following inhabitants are thought to have been affected by the fire:

John Butt - Marine Store dealer

Harriet Butt - wife

John Back (invalid)

Phillipa Back - daughter

Richard Baker

Jane - wife

Albert Baker - son

Edward Baker - son

Ethel Baker - daughter

Ernest Baker - son

Ann Baker - sister

Sophia Baker - niece

The man named Gosling has  not been traced

Miss Penticost is believed to be Annie Penticost (born in Kenton) who used the income from her cottage rents to supplement her earnings as a governess.


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