Bradford Observer (13/Jul/1837) - Alarming and Destructive Fire at Huddersfield

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.

Alarming and Destructive Fire at Huddersfield.

On Friday evening last, at a quarter before eight o’clock, during the conclusion of Mr. Crompton Stansfield’s address to the electors of Huddersfield, a most calamitous and destructive fire burst out in Chancery Lane, in that town, immediately behind Mr. Lancashire’s library, in the market-place. The premises were divided into three stories, the ground floor being occupied by Mr. Jacob Fell, chemist and druggist, of King-street, as a store for drugs, chemicals, &c., and by Mr. Shann, ale and porter dealer. The middle room was Mr. William Dewhirst's printing-office, and bookbinding workshop. The upper story was occupied by Messrs. Pennington’s, as a carpenter’s and joiner's shop, and it was in the fatter place the lire originated. It is usual for joiners constantly to have a fire in their shop, for the purpose of heating their glue and drying their work. Mr. Pennington was on the point of leaving work, but previous to which he had to take in some deals from a cart or waggon, and descended the stairs for that purpose, but was immediately recalled by a sudden blaze of light, and he found, on re-entering his shop, that a spark from the fire had communicated with the shavings of which lie hail a large quantity. He immediately endeavoured to extinguish the flames, but was compelled to abandon the attempt, and was severely scorched. In a very few minutes the shop was one intense blaze of fire, and he could only save a few hoards. He bad various articles of furniture ready for sending off on the Monday following, which, with the whole of his tools, wood, &c., were consumed. So intense were the the flames, that in a quarter of an hour the roof fell in with a tremendous crash. The Leeds and Yorkshire fire-engine had in the mean time arrived, and commenced its operations on the devouring element ; but either from its being out of repair, or from the hose being in a defective state, its efforts were of little service. The falling of the roof broke through the floor, and communicated the flames to Mr. Dewhirst’s premises, where it raged with uncontrollable fury. By great exertions, and the most imminent risk, part of the stock in trade, hooks hound, and in sheets, paper, rolling-boards, &c., were rescued, but in a very damaged state. The fire then descended to the store-room of Mr. Fell, the druggist, where, from the still greater combustible nature of the contents, the flames burst forth with ten-fold violence — camphor, oils, spirits, vitriol, pitch, resin, turpentine, and various other inflammable articles rendered all exertion fruitless. Other engines had, in the interim, arrived — one from Mr. D. Shaw, of Honley, and another from Mr. T. Atkinson, of Bradley Mills — but too late to be of any essential service. The greatest alarm now prevailed for the safety of the adjoining premises, which were however, preserved, though with the greatest difficulty. The inhabitants exerted themselves to the utmost in hearing away goods, supplying water, or working the engines, and it was not until halfpast nine the flames could he said to he got under ; then the cessation of the flames can only he attributed to the want of further materials to feed their fury. In the early part of the following morning a large iron printing press was with difficulty extracted from the ruins. The loss sustained by Mr. Dewhirst is stated to he from £1000 to £1200 ; that of Mr. Pennington we have not as yet been able to ascertain. Mr. Fell’s loss is considered to be about £500 or upwards. The two former, we lament to state, are uninsured. The preservation of the adjoining premises was almost miraculous, there being no less than three barrels and two canisters of gunpowder in the house immediately adjoining, and the flames had rapidly approached it, before the powder was recollected. As soon, however, as it became known, that there was so large a quantity of gunpowder so near at hand, the exertions of the bystanders were completely paralyzed, and numbers ran away from the scene, expecting an explosion every moment. Fortunately, however, the dangerous commodity was safely conveyed away, or the whole neighbourhood must have been involved" in ruins, and great loss of life and property have ensued, from the dense population of the adjoining neighbourhood. Great praise is due to the spectators who rendered every possible assistance, and the parties sustaining the loss have publicly returned thanks to those who so generously exerted themselves. Mr. Shann’s property was not much injured, and he is partly injured. From the foregoing account it will he perceived that the large and important commercial town of Huddersfield is destitute of a town's engine, and that in cases of fire they are dependent on engines belonging to the Leeds and Yorkshire Insurance Company, and private individuals. Surely it is worth while for the town to purchase a powerful and effective engine, which might always be kept in a proper state of repair, and ready for immediate use. We trust this hint will not he neglected.
Halifax Guardian.