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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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From The Western Times

11 September 1925


Twenty person homeless at Stokeinteignhead


Twenty persons, representing six families, were rendered homeless at Stokeinteignhead by a serious fire which broke out just  before one o'clock. So serious was the outbreak that three brigades were called  into service, namely Teignmouth, Newton Abbot and Torquay.

The fire, which originated in a cottage occupied by Mr. Full and was caused by the lighting of a copper*, was discovered by Ernest Balkwell, who saw that the thatched roof of one of a group of four cottages was alight. With startling suddenness the flames engulfed the whole range of thatch and placed the adjoining properties in jeopardy.

Villagers bestirred themselves and made strenuous efforts to save the furniture in the doomed cottages. The fire spread to a large barn between the Home Farm house and the granary, and a corner of the farmhouse roof became ignited.

The fire brigades at Teignmouth, Newton Abbot and Torquay were appealed to for help and the Teignmouth men were first on the scene, but unfortunately, their pumping apparatus broke down. The Newton Abbot brigade on arrival kept the fire in check and saved the farmhouse, but the cottages and barn were destroyed.

The property belonged to Mr. Tom French of the Home Farm and it is estimated that the loss amounts to more than £1000.

Temporary accommodation was found for the twenty homeless villagers  whose cottages have been burnt out.  They are:

Mr. and Mrs. Full, their four children and a foster child.

Mr. and Mrs. Robins and one child

Mr. Cort and two children

Mr. and Mrs. Pedrick sen.,and their son

Mr. and Mrs. Pedrick jnr., and one child.

The twenty victims were on Monday evening given accommodation by friends or relatives in the village. Mr. and Mrs. Full and family of four children were allowed the use of the village reading room as temporary accommodation.


*"Coppers" were common to most Devon homes and may even still exist in some. They were large boilers with taps and a wooden lid, which were positioned over some kind of heat source such as a gas ring or a small fire. 

All the white washing of the household - sheets, pillow slips. towels, handkerchiefs, shirts, underwear etc. was piled into the copper and covered with cold water which was then brought to the boil over a period of time. A pair of wooden tongs was used to take items out from time to time in order to examine them and, if thought necessary, rub them with extra soap from a green block the size of a house brick.

It was an extremely slow process and wash day always began before dawn. After the boiling process came rinsing in a tub of cold water which had had a cube of Reckett's "Blue" melted into it; this was followed by the heavy job of passing everything through a manually-turned mangle to remove the surplus water. Then, and only then, did the task of drying the washing begin.


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