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Fire at the Church Part 1 (1906)

Preston Old Church after fire, June 23 1906 (	Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

The fire of 23rd June 1906 that heavily damaged the church was reported in the Argus that evening and the article describes the scene that occurred that Saturday afternoon.

It reports that smoke was noticed issuing from the church door windows at around 3pm by a man working in the Manor grounds.

By the time Superintendent Lacroix arrived with the “Handy” and a contingent of fireman from Preston and Duke Street, the fire had a good hold of the organ and gallery and was moving along the roof and into the old tower. The nearest hydrant was some distance away but the firemen and some "willing helpers" managed to get a hose from the hydrant near the Preston Park Cricket Ground.

The Argus notes that a valuable mural painting over the altar was rescued by the firemen, and the fire was eventually extinguished some 2 hours later.

The damage was described as being very extensive with only the "smoke-begrimed shell" of the tower and the carillon of the three bells remaining. The organ was destroyed completely as was the roof of the main building, with the interior of church suffering from fire, smoke and water damage. Luckily the register was safe as it was housed in an iron safe in the vestry. The Argus also suggests the flames did not reach the chancel (described as "practically the private property of the Stanford family"), but do note that it would have suffered from smoke and water damage.

Read the article here (pdf).

Newspaper Article Credit: The Keep

Picture Credit: Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

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