Fire at the Toddington Jam Factory, 13 December 1907

On 13 December 1907, between 2.30pm and 3pm, an explosion occurred in the engine room at the Deakin’s jam factory at Naunton Field, Toddington. The explosion blew the roof off the engine house and fire quickly spread from the engine room to the nearby canning room. The flames was initially subdued by employees using hand held fire extinguishers and the “Merryweather” steam engine used for watering the fruit plantations with water from a nearby well. However, the fire continued to spread to the boiler house and caused significant damage to the canning department.

Evesham Fire Brigade were initially summonsed but refused to attend as Toddington was out of their area. Cheltenham Fire Brigade attended with Supt. Such and Lieut. Matthews in charge of the “Theobald” steam fire engine, however, the brigade were delayed and didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly 8pm. The Cheltenham Examiner, 18 December 1907 reported:

What might have proved a serious fire broke out at the Toddington Jam Factory on Friday afternoon. The steam engine was summoned from Cheltenham, but some hours elapsed before it could be brought to the spot, and in the meantime the employees at the factory, with the aid of hand-extinguishers and a portable engine in use on the farm, had subdued the fire. The delay in the arrival of the Cheltenham engine was caused by the difficulty of obtaining four horses necessary for the fourteen miles’ journey.

An enquiry in to the delay in Cheltenham Fire Brigade arriving on the scene in Toddington reported that the telephone message of the fire was not received until 5.05pm having been relayed via Winchcombe. The Brigade were ready to set off but were delayed because of a shortage of horses. The two Corporation horses set apart for this duty had only just arrived back at the Brigade’s depot after a day’s work and were not deemed fit enough to make the 13 mile journey pulling the steam fire engine to Toddington. It was nearly 6pm before four horses to pull the engine were found. But the time the Brigade arrived at the jam factory the fire had been practically extinguished and the Brigade returned to Cheltenham by 10.30pm.

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