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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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War Memorials



From the Exeter Flying Post

21 March 1890:

"A fire broke out about half-past one yesterday afternoon at Upper Sandy Gate, Kingsteignton, resulting in the destruction of eight houses. Nearly all the occupiers of these cottages lost their furniture and are rendered homeless.

Upper Sandy Gate consisted of twelve cottages, all except one being on the west side of the road. Eight were covered with thatch, the rest with slate, three of the latter standing behind the thatched cottages, and one at a short distance from the south end.

The thatched house at the north end was inhabited by James Beater and his family. Beater went home to dinner, and on leaving about half-past one to return to his work at the clay pits, he saw smoke issuing from the rear of  his house.  On going back, he found that the roof of his pig's house had taken fire, and that the flames extended to the roof of the dwelling house. He immediately raised an alarm and got the pig from the sty. There was a strong wind blowing at the time, and the fire spread with great rapidity, the row of seven cottages being all alight in a very short time. The people did what they could to get out their furniture and clothes, but in most cases, the bedding and upstairs furniture were burnt, and much of the downstairs furniture was broken.


Newton Abbot firemen c 1890s

Newton Abbot firemen c. 1890s

Source unkown


A messenger was despatched to Newton Abbot, and about quarter to three, the West of England fire engine, under the superintendence of Mr. C. Dobell, captain of the Newton Abbot Fire Brigade, arrived but it could do nothing to save the burning pile. The flames had, in the meantime, leapt across the road and set fire to the solitary cottage on the other side, which was also burnt to the ground.


The three houses at the back stand at right angles to the others, and the one nearest the burning cottages several time took fire, but the engine played upon it, and prevented the fire spreading in that direction.


The  families* rendered homeless are:

James Beater, wife, one child and aged mother-in-law

William Jordan, wife and niece

George Heyward, wife and four children

Walter Cook and five children

William Hayward, wife and six children

Harriet Newman

John Walters, wife, four children and bed-ridden brother-in-law

Elizabeth Stevens and two sons


These all found temporary shelter in the homes of relatives and friends, the Vicar, Mrs. Jackson and others doing all they could to alleviate the distress. A committee to raise a fund for the relief of the burnt-out cottagers is being formed. Rev. Percival Jackson is the treasurer and contributions may be sent to him or to Messrs Watts, Whidborne and Co, bankers of Newton Abbot.

Seven of the houses belonged to Mr. J. S. Burd of Higher Compton, Plymouth and the other to Lord Clifford, and are believed to be insured. The origin of the fire is unknown but it is believed that a spark from one of the cottages in the rear fell on the roof of the pig sty and was fanned by the high wind into a flame which set fire to the roof."


* A list compiled from various sources would suggest that at least 42  people were made homeless by this fire:

James Beater (50) Clay Cutter

Annie Beater (48) Wife

Anna Beater (22) daughter

Elizabeth Beater (19) Daughter

Florence Beater (15) Daughter

Mary E, Beater (8) Daughter

Johanna Discombe (86) Mother-in-law

William H. Jordan (45) Clay Cutter

Mary Ann Jordan (44) Wife

Rosa Jordan (11) Daughter

Eva Jordan (8) Daughter

Ehtel G. Jordan (5) Daughter

(No niece has been found for William Jordan as mentioned above so this reference may have been a misunderstanding. However, William and Mary Ann Jordan had children of their own and at least three of them would have been living in the house on the day of the fire although they would have been at school at the time it happened.)

George Heyward (29) Clay Cutter

Agnes Heyward ( 31) Wife

Winifred Heyward (5) Daughter

George Heyward ( 3) Son

Mary Ann Heyward (2) Daughter

(A fourth child has not yet  been found for this family.)

Walter Cook (45) Clay Cutter/Widower

Edith Cook (19) Daughter

William Cook (15) Son

Thomas Cook (13) Son

Walter Cook (10) Son

Sarah Cook (5) Daughter

William Heyward (39) Clay Cutter

Elizabeth Heyward (40) Wife

Martha Heyward ( 10) Daughter

Rosina Heyward ( 8) Daughter

Hannah Heyward (7) Daughter

Lily Heyward (5) Daughter

James Heyward (3) Son

Frederick J. Heyward (1) Son)

Harriet Newman (76) Widow

John Walters (31) Clay Cutter

Charlotte Walters (36) Wife

Frank Heyward (16) Step son

Blanch Walters (11) Daughter

Leah Walters (9) Daughter

Laura E. Walters (5) Daughter

(Identity of the bedridden brother-in-law is not known)

Elizabeth Stevens (51) Mother/ Widow

John Stevens (29) Clay Cutter

Mary Jane Stevens (27) Domestic Cook


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