Aftermath of the fire [AD1082/4a]
Friday 22nd June 1917: Last night saw the biggest fire Bedford has seen in modern times. It broke out before ten o’clock at Messrs. Hobson and Co.’s timber wharf near the river and devastated about two acres of buildings and wood sheds with their contents. The fire was spotted in its early stages by three young men in the gardens near the Picturedrome. They searched for buckets and water but without success, and the fire soon took hold and the position became hopeless. The Fire Brigade were assisted by their own supernumeraries, the Borough police and special constabulary, and by soldiers in training at Bedford, but the flammable nature of the oils, paints and wood on the premises meant the fire continued to spread. They were also hindered in deploying their hose when it was found that the hydrant opposition the Bridge Hotel had been damaged and was unusable. Fortunately the wind blew the flames across the river and the Brigade were able to prevent it spreading to the south, saving St. Mary’s and Cauldwell Street. However, they were unable to stop the adjacent premises, Messrs Newland and Nash’s malting, from being engulfed by the fire. By midnight the fire had largely burnt itself out and the mill and wood shed had been reduced to a scene of smouldering desolation.
Source: Bedford Volunteer Fire Brigade scrapbook [AD1082/4a]