Alarming Fire At Wootton 1907
An alarming and destructive fire broke out at Wootton on Wednesday morning 30th May, when a double tenement thatched cottage was practically destroyed. The cottage was situated near Wootton Rectory and belonging to the rector, the Rev. Dr. Coleman.
It was occupied by Dr. Coleman’s coachman [Mr S. Downer] and his gardener [Mr Way]. About 11 o’clock in the morning Mr Jolliffe, the chimney sweep, had just finished sweeping the chimneys in the house, when he noticed that the roof of Mr Downer’s house was smoking. He went back and alarmed the inmates, who speedily removed what furniture they could get out, whilst several men who were near got on the roof and tried to put out the burning thatch. They did not succeed, however, and before any of the bedroom furniture in Mr Downer house could be rescued the flames had obtained a good hold. Mr. Way succeeded, with many willing helpers, in getting the greater part of his furniture to a place of safety. Meanwhile the Newport Volunteer Fire Brigade had been summoned. The call was received in Newport about 20 minutes passed 11, and by 11.30 Capt. Mursell and seven man had started with the engine. The scene of the fire was reached in splendid time, but the fire had then a complete hold on the roof, which was blazing furiously. It was unfortunately found that the nearest water hydrant was between 300 and 400 yards from the burning house. The Newport Brigade had only 300 yards of hose with them [which Capt. Mursell said was much more than they usually carried], they had to wait, helpless, while the fire engine returned to Newport for more hose. This meant a wait of half an hour, and by the time the engine returned and the hose connected, the house was completed gutted. It only remained for the firemen to extinguish the smouldering embers. A large crowd watched the progress of the fire, many cycling from Newport. Mr and Mrs Downer were most unfortunate of the occupants, all their clothes which they were not wearing, as well as the children’s, being burned together with the furniture in the bedroom over which the fire started. However we understand that the Norwich Union office insured both Mr Downer and Mr Way.
Note: - The two cottages at the junction of Church Road and Rectory Drive [Rectory Cottages] are built on the site of the original building.
Source: Isle of Wight County Press, 1st June 1907