Monday, 12 December 2011

Fearful Scene at a Fire

To counterbalance Dickens' melancholy here's another 19th century Hornsey Road story, but this time one with danger and a happy ending.

It starts off badly, on a cold December morning:

'On Saturday morning, about five o'clock, a fire, nearly attended with the loss of six or seven persons, was discovered by a police-officer of the N division, in the premises belonging to Mr Chalton, a linen draper and silk mercer, carrying on business in Andover-terrace, Hornsey road.'

Then it gets worse:

'At the time of the outbreak the whole of the inmantes were in their beds fast asleep, and it was a work of no little difficulty to make them aware of their danger.'

And worse still, until it seems there's no hope:

'That was, however, at length accomplished; but the flames by this time had not only taken possession of the front shop and warehouses, but also the staircase, and were approaching the doors of the three other rooms, in which Mr Chalton, his children and his servants were.'

Then, almost at the last moment, everything turns out fine:

'To descend by the staircase was, therefore, an impossibility, and the affrighted persons made for the front windows and there being a sun blind over the shop windows, it was pulled out, two of the children were thrown out of the window on to the blind, and they rolled down and were caught by the people below. The servants, with the proprietor and his wife, next scrambled down in the same manner, and, fortunately, not one of them received the least injury. '

I love the image of the crowd gathered around ready to catch the children, the servants and Mr and Mrs Chalton. I wonder how many times they told the story and how many of them claimed to have been the one who thought of pulling out the sun blind.

From the 7 December 1868 edition of Morning Post, thanks again to the British Newspaper Archive.

And apologies to anyone reading this through RSS - I promise there will be no more accidental multiple posting

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