The photograph at the top right of all of the Web
pages shows the R7(*) malting building
after the devastating fire that took place on Friday August 15th 1929.
This was easily Sawbridgeworth's most serious and biggest fire which
broke out late evening, lighting the sky for miles with a red glow.
Sawbridgeworth and other supporting brigades were in attendance for
about 4 days and the Sawbridgeworth Dennis fire engine, set in at the
River Stort loop by the Station Road bridge (below), was pumping for 48 hrs. non
stop. Hoses were run down the road adjacent to the R4 malting and across
towards the R7 malting under the main Cambridge railway line to get
water to the fire. The fire was thought to have been caused a lightning
(*) The maltings at
Sawbridgeworth on both sides of the railway, owned by H. A. & D. Taylor
Limited, were all served by a railway siding and the maltings that adjoined
were all known by the siding number. R6 is the building in the right of the
photograph above and left below.
($) Pictures taken
by Frank Wright.
The top photograph is repeated
below for enlargement purposes.
Dennis fire engine pumping from the river Stort on Sunday 16th August 1929.
It is believed that the left
hand man standing by the Malt Extract Works building is the works 'Engine Man'
Left, a view of the maltings looking West after full
restoration - picture thought to have been taken around 1946. Around 1947
huge concrete grain silo, about 80ft high, was built to the South side of
the R7 malting (See Picture Right). (Picture supplied
by John Dear)
(Picture kindly supplied by Joseph Fizgerald) By the
time this picture was taken the R6 chimney was less liable to smoke as the
boilers had been converted to oil firing - Heavy Fuel Oil supplied in
steam heatable railway tankers.
Left - On the 1st February
1905 a serious fire broke out on the corner of Hoestock Road and London
Road. The Fire Brigade were called at 11:50pm and arrived 9 minutes later.
The cause of the fire was recorded as 'unknown' and the damage estimated at
£2,500. Records show that the brigade were engaged for 37 hours!
Harrys Store Fire
Both Pictures courtesy of Richard
"The village of Sawbridgeworth,
Hertfordshire, is proud in the possession of the youngest fireman in the
country. "Billy", the-ten-year-old son of Dr. Collins, is no mere ornamental
member of the brigade, for he has assisted ably at two serious fires during
the week. He is described by the Captain as "one of the brightest boys I
have ever met, and invaluable, not only as a messenger, but on the scene of
a fire as well". Billy's success as a fireman has had the effect of making
all the boys of Sawbridgeworth ambitious to emulate his example. 1. Billy
riding to the Waterworks to ensure a sufficient head of water. If any
members of the Brigade are slow in responding to a call, he rides round on
his bicycle and whips them up. 2. In charge of the hose. 3. Turning on the
water. 4. On rescue work intent. 5. Billy in his place on the engine. 6. A
view from above. ("Daily Graphic" photograph.)
It is said that there had been a mill in
Sawbridgeworth for at least a thousand years and certainly one was mentioned
in the Domesday Book. However, when the mill that became Burton's, as it was
later known, was first established is not clear. There was another mill on
the River Stort at Sheering Mill which had disappeared before the
commencement of the 20th century so whether the Station Road mill was
established out of that is unclear. The building off Station Road was always recognised as a fire hazard
being constructed almost entirely of wood but it survived well even through
the Second World War with some incendiaries falling close by. In 1975 though the huge buildings were more or less redundant and
fire engulfed them spectacularly as is shown below.
The Mill complex as it was in the
1960's The cup conveyor hanging out from the
tall building was for unloading loose wheat in bulk from barges on the river Stort
which was still
the principal delivery method at this time.
Garrett Steam Lorries owned
by Thomas Burton Ltd - Late 1920's (Picture supplied
by John Dear)
The Fire as seen at
distance from the River Tow Path - looking North
The Fire as seen at
distance from the River Tow Path - close up.
Pictured left to right Will
Broad; Fred Tant and Tom Puncher
On 28th April 1951 fire breaks
out in the white cottages, used upstairs to store plumbing
supplies whilst downstairs cement etc. was kept. Due to lack of
water pressure the Fire Brigade has great trouble coping. Water
has to be brought in from ponds at the Manor of Groves.
Sawbridgeworth Brigade attended with two appliances, the
Water Tender and the Leyland Major Pump and were assisted by
appliances called in from both Bishop's Stortford and Harlow
brigades to boost water supplies from open water at a distance.
Subsequently the roof is re-thatched with reed and the building
refurbished as offices.
removed to expose underlying fire - base of ladder Fm. Jack Riches; looking down Sub Officer
Frank Wright; others unrecognisable.