Thursday, 14 February 2013

Big fire at Dorchester

Breweries and fires. They go together like mayhem and destruction. Is there a brewery that didn't have a serious firer at some point?

Just for a change, this one didn't start in the maltings. Nor in any of the bits than usually went up in flames.

A destructive fire broke out at Dorchester Brewery Saturday afternoon, and the greatest part of the main structure was gutted. The brewery, which was erected 1880, was the property Messrs. Eldridge, Pope, and Co., and was one of the biggest in the West England, the firm being the owners of a large number houses in Dorset, Hants, Wilts, and Somerset. It is supposed that the outbreak started in the hop store, and first it was hoped would localised the Dorchester Fire Brigade were on the scene within few minutes. Unfortunately, the fire proved beyond scope of the brigade, and flames spread rapidly that a short time the whole of the centre part of the brewery became involved. Men of the Dorset Regiment at the Depot turned out with the military appliances, but owing the height of the building little could done.

Some sailors joined in the work, and one them had his finger cut off and had to be taken to the hospital. The brigade strove to prevent the further spread of flames, but enormous damage was done. The extensive bonded stores containing a quantity spirits were, fortunately, in a detached building. The flames could seen, for miles round, and huge crowds watched the progress of the fire, the brewery being close the South-Westem Railway station the main Dorchester Weymouth road. The fire blazed throughout Saturday night, and yesterday morning the once magnificent building, which had been fitted with all the latest appliances, presented a terrible scene of destruction.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Monday 20 November 1922, page 3.

I blame the lack of television for the crowds coming to watch the fire. Obviously nothing better for them to be doing.

I hope the brewery was insured. Judging from this next report about its rapid reconstuction, I suspect that it was:

"The Dorchester Brewery to be Rebuilt.—There is much satisfaction in noting the fact that the Dorchester Brewery (Messrs. Eldridge, Pope, & Co.), that was recently reduced to absolute ruin by fire, is to be re-built, with as much expedition as possible, from plans prepared by Messrs. Crickmay, the architects of the original building. In the past the town of Dorchester has been sadly luckless in the fires that have occurred within its confines. The records show that as long ago as August 6th, 1613, the town was utterly destroyed by an accidental fire in which 300 houses and the churches of Holy Trinity and All Saints were burned. The fire began house of tallow chandler, who made too great a blaze under his cauldron, with the result that the fire took hold of the tallow and set light to the house, the wind carrying the flames all over the town. Other very serious fires occurred Dorchester and 1775, the latter making great havoc amongst the thatched houses near the gaol. The whole town must have been burnt down on the latter occasion had it not been for some Dragoon Guards  quartered in the town."
Western Gazette - Friday 22 December 1922, page 2.

Judging by the appearance of the brewery today, they made a pretty good job or rebuilding it. Living in a town densely packed with wooden buildings must have been scary when fire broke out. I'm glad they changed over to using bricks for building houses.


The Beer Nut said...

Bet it smelled lovely.

Arctic Alchemy said...

Nothing worse than loosing a finger whilst putting out a fire at a brewery...heroic !