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Village Fires

34 High Street

Not too sure of the year but I believe it was 1997/98.

This fire started in the barn at the corner of High Street and Edwards Hill, it spread almost immediately to the adjoining cottage, number 34. Had it not been for the prompt action of the local Fire Brigade, the next building in the row "The Downs House",  would also have gone up in smoke.  I watched the firemen breaking through the tiled roof of the cottage so as to get a hose into the roof space to prevent the flames spreading to next doors attic.  It was touch and go but with reinforcements arriving very quickly the firemen managed to save Mrs. Warrs Guest House.  Fire Tenders arrived from Wantage, Didcot, Hungerford and goodness knows from where else.
The barn and cottage were gutted. As was Alistair Paton the owner.

The fire was started accidentally by the builders who were converting the old barn to a dwelling.

Neil Robertson

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Baydon House
Another fire in the High Street but this one was in the early 1980's

Baydon House went up in smoke while the owners, The Thatcher's, were away.  It's a mystery how the fire started but a blessing no one was injured.
My wife and I were next to occupy Baydon House, we lived there for ten years from 1990. We have very happy memories of our time there.

Neil Robertson

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Obviously left some time before restoration began



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Front of Baydon House awaiting Planning.



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Must have got a wee bit damp in the waiting.


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Still waiting!


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 Nothing done as yet.


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 Rear of house.



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  This was to become my bedroom.



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Restoration complete and a super job it was too.




Liz Beard found this account of a serious fire at Seven Barrows to add to the list.

June 8th 1939



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House and Yard





Mr H. L Cottrill's Stables at Seven Barrows

Fifty Horses Rescued


The neighing and stamping of terrified horse was the first warning of a fire which caused damage amounting to several thousand of pounds at the Seven Barrows, Lambourn, stables of Mr H.L.Cottrill, the well-known trainer, on Sunday afternoon.


Four valuable racehorses were burned to death and a building containing 50 boxes and a costly violet-ray plant was completely destroyed. So rapid did the flames spread that rescuers were unable to get anywhere near the boxes in which the four horse perished and only just succeeded in releasing the remaining animals. They had no time to halter them, but turned them loose in the paddock where some of the horses stampeded and broke away on to the Downs.


Flames Sweep Through Thatch

The four horses burned to death were Brave Warrior, a five year old, bought for £750 after winning at Epsom a fortnight ago. Deep Level, a four-year-old gelding belonging to Sir Abe Bailey, Slip On, a four year old, and Bizou, a three year old, owned by Captain Lionel Montagu.

Fifty other horses, some of them entered for Ascot, were saved, including Fairstone, which ran in the Derby, Magic Circle, Golden Sovereign, Caerloptic and Dragonnade, which was engaged for the Newbury Cup this week.

The building which was destroyed, roughly formed three sides of a square and had a thatched roof with tiled eaves. One end consisted of a barn converted into stables with a hay and straw loft and adjoining this and close to Mr Cottrill's house and the stable lad's quarters were the violet-ray room and the battery and engine rooms.

The fire started at the north end of the building and in a few minutes the flames driven by a stiff breeze had raced along the thatch and spread to the other stables


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The Yard


Eye-Witness's Stories


Graphic stories of the fire were told by eyewitnesses. Except for the apprentices, there were only a few lads on the premises at the time, and these were resting in their rooms before grooming the horses at 4.30.

Mr W Johnson, whose special charge is Fairstone said, "About 3.45 Mr Jimmy Wilde, one of the head lads, ran through my room shouting 'Fire' He had seen the flames from a window. We ran into the yard together. The place was full of smoke and the horses were whinnying and kicking their boxes.

"Our first concern was to save as many horses as we could. I brought out Golden Sovereign and then unloosened Fairstone and Caerloptic, turning them out into the paddock. Mr Wilde rescued Dawn Fox which was in the next box to Brave Warrior, Draggonnade, Valentine and Magic Circle followed. The rugs on the backs of some were burning and the animals were frantic with terror. When they were turned loose they bit and savaged each other and what with the fire and trying to control the horses it was a nightmare. I don't want to go through another experience like it again"


Refused to Come Out


Jim Cane, the headman, and John Roberts, a new lad, made a gallant effort to rescue Brave Warrior. Roberts says he got a sack over the horse's head but in its frenzy it kept going round and round in the blazing box and would not come out. In a second or two the burning roof fell in and they were forced to retreat. Roberts said he also opened Valentine's door and the horse rushed out with it s rug blazing. It was burnt about the quarters.

Meanwhile Lambourn Brigade had been summoned and were on the scene five minutes later under Chief Officer JRB Cramsie, himself a trainer. They were followed by the Hungerford and Wantage Brigades and while Lambourn pumped from a pond in the paddock adjacent to the house, Wantage pumped from a pond on Lye Lease Down to a dam in the paddock where Hungerford picked up the supply.

In spite of the combined efforts of the three brigades the flames had secured such a firm hold of the thatched building that they could do little to check them. The stables were soon a blazing mass and it seemed a miracle that so many horses had been saved. The pond from which Lambourn brigade were pumping ran dry after about two hours and they then connected with the main hydrant. This had not been used before as the pressure was insufficient. The Hungerford and Wantage Brigades returned to their stations on Sunday night, but the Lambourn Brigade remained on duty until 7 o'clock Monday morning, a fresh relay of firemen coming on during the night.


Although the fireman found it impossible to save the main building they did splendid work in preventing the fire from spreading to the house and the stable lads quarters. At one time with the wind in that direction, it looked as though these would be involved and as a precaution the lads moved all their kit outside. In addition to the stables the violet-ray room and engine room were gutted, but the battery room was saved.

Mr Cottrill received the greatest help from his fellow trainers in Lambourn. Of the fifty horses which were rescued Mr Marcus Marsh accommodated 24 at his stables and the remainder were taken by Sir Hugh Nugent, Mr FB Stapleton Martin, Mr R Bennett and Mr CAV McVittie.

The horses have now been returned to Seven Barrows where Mr Cottrill had a number of unoccupied boxes. Yesterday (Wednesday) Mr Cottrill's secretary stated that except for a few scratches the horses were none the worse for their experience and had all resumed normal exercise.


This is the second fire which has occurred at Mr Cottrill's stables recently. About three weeks ago a straw store near where Sunday's blaze started, caught alight and was put out by the Lambourn Brigade.


The cause of both outbreaks is unknown.


Mr HL Cottrill wishes to thank all those who so kindly helped at the fire which took place at Seven Barrows on Sunday last as it is quite impossible for Mr Cottrill personally to thank the many people who so very kindly assisted him.