Possibly one of the worst things to happen to any fire crew, is to discover that one of their number is an arsonist.

On 9th October 1965 the Broadway brigade attended a barn fire at Top Farm Broadway. This proved to be the first in a series of suspicious fires and malicious false alarms, all of which occurred late on either Friday or Saturday evenings. Three weeks after the Top Farm fire, at 01.32 on 31st October, the brigade was called to a suspicious fire in a private garage in Collett's Gardens. Almost five weeks later on Friday 3rd December they received a call to Masty Farm, on Evesham Road, which turned out to be a hoax. The next incident in the series occurred a month later at about 22.20 on New Years Day 1966, when Miss. Tranter-Cook of The Closes Farm in the High Street noticed, from her bedroom window, that her barn, which she had checked only ten minutes earlier, was on fire. The brigade was called, and arrived quite quickly, but was unable to save the twenty-four tons of hay and straw which was stored in the barn. A tractor was also damaged beyond repair. Two weeks after that, on the evening of Saturday January 15th, a second fire was discovered in a barn at Top Farm, Bibsworth Lane. This was a particularly unpleasant incident because in addition to the hay, grain and animal feed which was destroyed, a sow and her litter of eleven piglets, and about one hundred and fifty hens were burned to death. A further two weeks later on 29th January, again a Saturday night, a barn belonging to the Passionist Fathers, who had a farm at the rear of the monastery in Leamington Road, was found to be on fire. At about 23.30 Mr Leonard Kenny, a student at the monastery, noticed the blaze and raised the alarm. The fire destroyed about fifteen tons of hay, two tons of straw, animal feed and some tools. Luckily, Father Conleth O'Hara, the priest who was in charge of the farm, ensured the safety of the cattle by releasing them from the barn when the fire was discovered.

Evesham Journal re Arson TrialIt was quite obvious that these fires were arson, and there were suspicions as to who was responsible. On the day following the monastery fire a fireman, who had been a member of the Broadway brigade for about a year, was questioned at Evesham police station by P.C. Pratt, the Broadway constable. The fireman admitted lighting the fire at the monastery. When P.C. Pratt suggested he could also help regarding the previous two fires he replied, "All right, I did them". The fireman, aged twenty-four, appeared before Evesham magistrates on 9th February 1966. In a statement, allegedly made at the police station, he said, "Well, there are three things I can say. I started three fires - one at Miss Cook's, one at Top Farm where the animals were killed and one last night at the monastery. I started them with matches. They were all hay fires. I did this because I had the drink and I like the money". He said that he wished to make no reply to the charges at this stage. The fireman was committed for trial at Worcester Assizes on four charges; which were; maliciously setting fire to farm buildings at Broadway on January 1st, January 15th and January 29th, and with setting fire to a hay stack at one of the farms, (the monastery).

The following month, at Worcester Assizes, the fireman pleaded guilty to the charges. Mr John Field-Evans, prosecuting, said that the damage caused by the fires, all within five hundred yards of the defendant's home, amounted to £2,330. It included the destruction of farm equipment pigs and poultry. Defending, Mr Michael Pratt said that his client had an excellent record, and had not realised the fires were serious at the time. He said he did it for money- a trivial amount for a man who was earning £12 a week from his full time job. He added that he did not suffer from pyromania as he had not stopped to watch the fires. He went home, waited to be called out, then took great pleasure in putting them out. He was sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment on each charge, the sentences to run concurrently.