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The Old Baginton Hall

Baginton Hall - The Great Fire - Page 6


None of the valuable pictures or books have been lost; these have been removed to safe places at storage. Visitors to the scene have been very numerous, but no one is allowed to approach near to the building on account of the danger from falling stones and bricks.

With reference to the delay in getting the service of water to play on the fire, one of our representatives spoke to Lieut. Thomas, who was in charge of the Coventry Volunteer Fire Brigade steam engine. Lieut. Thomas explained that the steamer took up a position by the side of the pool at ten or fifteen minutes past eleven. There was an abundant supply of water and the members of the brigade went to work heartily in getting the hose laid oat, seventeen lengths being required to reach the burning building. The hose bad to be carried up a steep incline rising from the pool, a distance of nearly three hundred yards, then along a comparatively level piece of ground to the shrubbery, and thence to the Hall a distance of another hundred yards. The laying of the hose was accomplished in very smart time, Lieut. Thomas judging it at about eight minutes. After the hose was down the difficulty presented itself of forcing the water up the incline and this proved a most arduous task. It was estimated that the rise from the pool to the Hall was about 100 feet, and in places the gradient was very steep. The engine continued to pump at the highest possible pressure that the strength of the hose would allow; had the hose not been of the best material it must have burst. At intervals the water forced its way tiny holes in the canvas jets of water five feet the demonstrating the pressure being exerted upon it from the engine. Gradually the hose swelled out and marked the advance of the water, but when the top of the hill was reached it would go no further. The firemen hurried to and fro, and used every endeavour, and tried every resource to "coax" the water further along. It was decided to disconnect the hose at the highest point reached by the service of water, and allow the pent-up air to escape. This was done, and the hose worked to and fro to find the easiest gradient. Meanwhile, the fire was gaining on the building. And comrades coming from the scene urged their fellow-members to further endeavours; it was impossible, by reason of the belt of trees, for the men working at the hose to see the exact progress of the fire, but they heard enough to convince them that every effort was needed. At last the water swelled up the hose and a jet was thrown from the nozzle, the supply the never ceased until the order was given to stop pumping. The engine worked continuously four hours and twenty minutes. ‘Had it been possible,’ said Lieut. Thomas, ‘to have got the water earlier, without having to pump it up that hill – never mind the distance – I believe the brigade could have prevented the fire getting past the first storey.’ Capt. Thomas was present at the Council meeting yesterday morning, with a surgical bandage round his head, his upper lip apparently being cut. Mr Ballantine MP, telegraphed to Mr Thomas yesterday; ‘Extremely sorry to read of your injury. Trust not serious. Wire how you are.

Baginton Hall

The hall was rebuilt for the Bromleigh family between 1706 and 1710 following the fire of 1706. It was designed by Francis Smith of Warwick whose building of the West Front of Stoneleigh Abbey is considered his masterpiece.

 

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