Lower 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 1897.

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.

Stephen Jarrett
Stephen Jarrett
Doctor Stadring
Doctor Standring