St. Andrew's School, Church Street [Z1432/2]
Friday 22nd December 1916: Mrs. Rose, headmistress of St. Andrew’s School in Church Street, Leighton Buzzard was seriously injured on Wednesday night when a large chimney cap fell through the roof of the School House as she lay in bed. The cap fell from a large chimney stack between the school buildings and the School House. These chimney stacks are finished with an overhanging coping of stone blocks, each weighing four hundredweight. While there were no obvious signs that anything was wrong with this coping, it seems that the cement had crumbled due to recent frosts, and a sudden thaw and rain storm caused the masonry to fall onto the tiles of the School House below. Mr. and Mrs. Rose were sleeping in the room immediately below when the chimney cap fell through the roof, hitting the bed and “crumpling it up as though it were matchwood”. Mr. Rose says he at first thought that a Zeppelin bomb had fallen on the building.
Mr. Rose escaped with cuts to the face and legs, but Mrs. Rose was so seriously hurt that she was unable to speak. While she was being moved to another room her daughter, Miss Rose, went for a doctor. He found Mrs. Rose was suffering from pain and shock, having been struck a glancing blow by the block of masonry as it fell on the bed. At first internal injuries were feared but she has since spent a comfortable night and it is hoped she will soon be out of danger. The bed rail on the side Mrs. Rose was sleeping was bent almost to a right angle, and probably saved her from worse injury. The block fell end first through the bedroom ceiling, and after hitting the bed landed in the fireplace, smashing the gas stove and fender to pieces. A second block from the top of the chimney lodged in the ceiling joists, and two more fell into the front garden and the schoolyard.
All her pupils will hope that Mrs. Rose is well enough to return to school after the Christmas break. She has been headmistress at St. Andrew’s for thirty two years, and the school has thrived under her leadership. A recent inspection report concluded that the school “is in excellent order and continues to do well in all ways. Instruction in Needlework and in other branches of Home-craft is especially worthy of praise.”
Sources: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 26th December 1916; Bedfordshire school inspection reports 1910-1937 [E/IN1/1]