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From the Sussex Express, 27th September 1845


On Wednesday evening, at half-past seven o'clock, much excitement and alarm were created in consequence of a report being circulated that a fire had broken out in the neighbourhood of Glynde, smoke and flame being distinctly seen rising above the Cliffe Hills. Shortly afterwards a man came rapidly along on horseback to the engine-house, and stated that a barn in the occupation of J Ellman, Esq, of Glynde, was in flames. The engine was immediately horsed and started for the spot where, however, in consequence of the rapid spread of the fire and the scarcity of water, the nearest at hand being a quarter of a mile off, it appeared to be of little service; but those persons who were near formed themselves into a line, and used their utmost exertions to supply the engine. On our reaching the spot, Lacey's Farm, near the park of the Hon General Trevor, about an hour and a half after the fire broke out, the scene was terrific. We found the barn, which was filled with wheat, and the adjoining yard and hovels levelled with the ground and in one body of flame. Close to this were four large stacks of meadow and clover hay, some smouldering with large patches of fire; others being consumed more rapidly, and throwing forth bodies of sparks which threatened to ignite a clover hay stack, an oat stack, and a wheat rick, which stood close at hand. A hedge on the opposite side was completely scorched.

It being perfectly useless to attempt extinguishing the flames, every exertion was made by wetting the nearest stacks and covering them with tarpaulins to save them, and fortunately they were successful. It was afterwards decided that the best plan was to remove an oat stack which stood closer than the others, and all hands set to work and soon accomplished this object. The wheat rick was afterwards removed from the vicinity of danger, and the large masses of smoking ruins are all that now remain of the well-filled barn and stack yard. The loss is estimated at about £1,400, but we are informed that both General Trevor and Mr Ellman are insured.

It is remarkable that a very large water cask, half full of water, standing near the pump on the premises, was, with the pump, the first thing burned. Great endeavours were immediately made to get the water cask out, but the fire spread so rapidly as to prevent the possibility of accomplishing it, and the pump being enveloped in flames was soon destroyed. Nothing is known as to the origin of the fire, but it is believed, from circumstances which have since transpired, that it was occasioned by a drunken railway labourer negligently throwing down his lighted pipe in a hovel in which he had crept, unobserved, to sleep. It is singular that a few days ago, French, Mr Ellman's bailiff, discovered a pipe of tobacco, only half smoked out, close to a wheat stack not far distant from the scene of this conflagration. We beg to insert the following letter referring to the fire:-

'Glynde, 26th Sept, 1845

To the numerous kind friends of all classes who so readily gave their assistance in endeavouring to save some of my property on Wednesday night last from the devastating fire which so suddenly broke out, I take this public opportunity of returning my heartfelt thanks.

Where so many actively exerted themselves, it would be invidious to name particular individuals; but I may be excused for saying that to Mr Montacute Scott, who accompanied Captain Mackay to the fire on the first alarm, and who never left it the whole night, I feel deeply indebted. To Capt Mackay also, and the police who were present, I return my best thanks; and to many respectable tradesmen from Lewes, who came over immediately, and who exerted themselves so soon in supplying the engines (which were sent from Lewes instantly) with water, I owe a deep debt of gratitude.

It is a great source of satisfaction to believe that the fire was NOT the act of an incendiary; but my firm conviction is that it was caused by some one who had gone into the hovel to sleep, and who, from carelessly throwing down his pipe, set the building on fire, but who left the premises hastily, on discovering the mischief he had done.

I cannot conclude without recommending landlords to have their farm buildings tiled or slated as much as possible. The immense mass of thatch on the barn and hovels which are destroyed was the cause of the fire spreading so rapidly as to prevent the possibility of saving any of them, and only a small proportion of the stacks near.

I would also earnestly entreat my brother-farmers to prohibit the smoking, which is now so general, by any of their servants on their premises.

John Ellman'

Listed under the Topic: Farming

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