From the Evening Telegraph Friday October 22 1897
DISASTROUS FIRE AT
A SHOE FACTORY GUTTED
The house adjoins the street, and the factory which was of three storeys, with a frontage of about 50 feet, ran back upon some waste ground. Owing to the space adjoining Mr. Meads' factory being vacant, the neighbours on the opposite side of the street have an uninterrupted view of the building, and to this fact was attributable the discovery of the fire. Work was carried out as usual on Monday, and when the factory was closed for the night, everything was apparently safe, Mr. Meads, with his wife and five children, retired to bed about , and at that period there was nothing to indicate that anything was amiss.
The first person to discover the outbreak was Mr. Edward Bailey, who lives opposite the vacant space referred to above, and who was aroused by the bright reflection of the flames illuminating his bedroom. On ascertaining that the bottom room of the factory was well alight, Mr. Bailey hastily dressed himself and called up Mr. Meads, who at once set about securing the safety of his family, which fortunately was effected without injury. Mean while Mr. Bailey had alarmed the other neighbours in the street by cries of “Fire!" and a small band of helpers was speedily on the scene. It was apparent that the outbreak could not be checked by the only means at the disposal of the neighbours, which consisted of drawing water from the wells in the vicinity to dash through the broken windows.
A messenger was immediately dispatched to
This was safely accomplished, although Mr. Meads had a remarkably narrow escape of being buried beneath a huge mass of bricks which fell from the gable end as he was leaving the back door with a table in his hands. A mass of fire fell upon his hands and feet, both of which were badly burned, one finger lacerated with some broken glass. As each successive floor succumbed to the flames, the machinery fell to the ground with a crash. So fierce was the heat that no near approach to the factory was possible and the arrival of the firemen was eagerly awaited.
It was 3.40 when the Brigade arrived, but from the outset they were very much handicapped by the scarcity of water. Only one well in the vicinity could be reached, several having been emptied previous to their arrival, and this barely lasted three minutes. At this time nothing remained beyond the four walls, which momentarily threatened to fall outwards, but a tremendous amount of leather in various stages of manufacture still supplied fuel for the flames, which now and again burst out with vigour. After emptying the well, the steamer was taken to brook on the Finedon-road some 500 yards away, but here the distance prevented anything like an adequate force or supply. The whole of the machinery, comprising a heeler, two presses, split, weighing machine and the necessary machinery in the clicking room, was totally destroyed, whilst Mr. Meads lost all his books, which were kept in his office on the second floor, in addition about £20 in money, which was in a till in the office desk. During the morning a piece of the west gable fell upon the back portion of the house, completely smashing in the roof.
Mr. Harris, the owner of the property, severely injured himself through partly falling down an open well in the darkness. His injuries were attended to by some of the firemen who hold ambulance certificates, and they also dressed Mr. Meads’ injured hand. When our representative left at there was nothing standing beyond the bare walls, although there was considerable fire to contend with in the building. How the outbreak originated is at present a mystery. The contents of the factory are insured, whilst the buildings are also covered by insurance for £600. Mr. Meads estimates his loss at about £1,500. Supt. Andrews of Kettering with Inspector Butlin and P.C.s Currin, Short and Garratt, were early on the scene, and rendered efficient help.
During the morning whilst a labouring man was walking close to the factory a brick fell upon his head causing a very serious wound. First aid was rendered by Inspector Dixon and Fireman Few, after which the unfortunate man was conveyed to his home. About 50 people are thrown out of employment by the fire. The Kettering Brigade reached home at