Mill, Broadway 1897
The fire which prompted the formation of the Broadway fire brigade
occurred at Lower Mill, in Cheltenham Road, Broadway on 3rd September
The corn mill and adjoining house were owned and occupied by Mr Benjamin
Burrows and his wife. Mr Burrows finished grinding at about 10pm that
evening. He shut down the mill, put out the lights, then after half
an hour spent reading, went to bed. At about 12.30am he and his wife
were disturbed by noises coming from the mill. At first they thought
that the noise was caused by the dog chasing rats. But as the noise
increased Mr Burrows got up and looked through the window. Seeing
flames he quickly dressed, and rushed to the mill where he found the
fire had taken a firm hold. The fire had, apparently, started on the
middle floor where a smutter (a device for cleaning the grain before
grinding) and the casing of a pair of stones were well alight, and
by this time, had burnt through the garner floor to the roof. Mr Burrows
hurried to the village to get assistance. He ran up the street shouting
Fire!. He was joined by Stephen Jarrett, Lord Lifford's
gardener, who had seen the glow of the fire, and was running to investigate.
The village doctor, Dr Standring, was the first member of the public
to arrive on the scene, and he checked that no one was left in the
house. Further helpers arrived, and proceeded to salvage the contents
of the house, as it was evident that it too would soon be on fire.
The first floor had been cleared of everything except the bedsteads,
when the roof fell in, making access to the roof space impossible.
The lower rooms were completely stripped of everything, including
doors and shutters. Fortunately, the fire was prevented from reaching
adjoining buildings, where some valuable machinery was being stored.
Horses, poultry and a wagon were also moved to safety.
There was little chance of fighting the fire as the village water
main did not reach as far as the mill, so the parish hose was of no
use. There was an abundant supply of water in the adjacent mill pond,
but this could not be pumped onto the fire without a fire-engine.
John Cordell of the Lygon Arms (brother of Robert who, later, became
the first captain of the Broadway brigade) rode to Evesham to alert
the fire brigade, arriving there at about 1.45am. By the time the
Evesham brigade arrived on the scene, at 3.15am, little remained of
the house. A jet was played on the main timbers, and on the one room
which remained. The fire was finally out at 6am, but all that was
left were the bare walls of the house and mill. The property was insured
for £1000, but there was no contents insurance. This incident
was, as the Evesham Journal's reporter put it at the time, "A
forcible object lesson". A reference to the folly of a community
like Broadway having no proper fire-fighting equipment to hand.
After the fire the Parish Council met to discuss firefighting in the
village. It was decided that a fire engine was urgently required,
and one should be purchased. Thus, within three months of the Lower
Mill fire, Broadway possessed a fire engine, and a crew to man it.