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Introduction

Whilst every effort has been made to verify dates and historical events, details and pictures etc, very few records and log books of the Northampton  Fire Brigade in Northampton were kept.  Most of the 'Northampton Against Fire' collection of pictures and information have come from researching through  limited records available and through personal contacts locally.  The main theme of this site is about the Mounts Fire Station Northampton, with pictures and extracts  taken from the book  'Northampton Fire Station 1935 to 1985  50th  Anniversary.

David Wilson

 Acknowledgements

The photographs and extracts  are from the D.E.Wilson 'Northampton against Fire' collection. Where possible permission for copying photographs, pictures and extracts from documents will be acknowledged which include the following. Northampton Borough Council. Northampton Chronicle & Echo and the Alan Burman Collection. George Marks, Northants Post. Northamptonshire Public Libraries Sun Alliance Insurance Group.  Henry Cooper (Beedle & Copper) and Victor Hatley

 

The Fire of Northampton in September 20th 1675. (Northampton Mercury Sept' 25 1875.) 

The late Mr de Wilde, writing in the "Northampton Mercury" on September 25th 1875, says:  September 20th 1675` - perhaps the most memorable day in the history of Northampton - was a blistering autumn day, with a fierce wind blowing from the West. We can imagine that the industrious trade folk were not tempted out much but preferred - those that were in the leather trade to stay at home and apply their skill to the manufacture of leathern bottles and and the immense pliant folding-top boots of the period, the women plying their bobbins and thread. Towards 12 o'clock, however, when, perhaps dinner was occupying the attention of most, the news spread that a fire had broken out in a hovel near the castle, and had extended to some adjoining tenements. Some run down to the scene of the disaster, to look or assist in extinguishing the flames, while others deemed it the wiser and more comfortable thing to make sure of a good dinner while it was good, designing to stroll down afterwards and see what was to be done. Little did they think, those who were thus nonchalant, that the fire was coming to them to save them the trouble of going to it. But such it was and with terrible speed. The bells of All Hallows had scarcely chimed the hour of noon, when say an eyewitness they "began to jangle a different tune." Dinner was then forgotten and boots and leathern bottles and lace, and everything save personal safety, for fanned and fostered by the fierce west wind, it was making it's way with terrific speed to the centre of town, literally licking everything up in it's course. It commenced in a cottage at the upper end of St Mary's Street near the castle. As to it's origin, it is said that a poor woman ("an infamous and common woman." says one writer),  having some clothes boiling on the fire, got some straw and put it under the pan, and having kindled "to a great wisp" of it, the sudden blaze set the chimney on fire. The flames quickly communicated themselves to the thatched roof, and from that spread to the adjoining tenements. Another account says that the woman had gone into a neighbour's to gossip, leaving her child alone in the house, and that on returning to fetch her child she found the house on fire," and ran out, and away, crying "I shall be hanged, I shall be hanged." The account adds: She is not yet returned, nor found to tell us what she did." It is evident however, that the precise mode  in which the conflagration commenced is not known.

 

Defoe’s Tour Through Britain 1738. (Northamptonshire, Great Britain P363-364 Ref' Northampton Library)    

I now come to Northampton, the handsomest town in all this part of England, but here as at Warwick, the beauty of it is owing to it’s disaster; for it was so effectually burnt down, that very few houses were left standing; and although the fire began in the day time, the flame spread itself with such fury, and speed, that they tell us, a townsman being two miles off, upon a hill, on the south side of the town, saw the fire at one end of it, just as it began; and before he could reach the town, with all the speed he could, the other end was in flames also, ‘Tis now finely rebuilt with brick and stone, and the streets made spacious and wide. It has four churches , two hospitals, and a charity school well endowed. The market place is square and spacious; The assize house is built after the Corinthian order. All hallows Church is a pretty edifice , with a cupola, and a noble portico before it of 8 lofty columns. Upon the balustrade is a statue of King Charles II. It is situated on the river Nene, over which there are two handsome bridges, and is walled in; on the west side are the remains of an old castle upon an imminence.

 

 

 

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