Fires in Stowupland

In the mid 19th century there was a spate of fire setting, but as Neil Langridge has found calling out Stowmarket’s fire brigade had to  be paid for.

During the incendiary outbreak of 1844 many fires were started under cover of the night in the Stowmarket area, as a form of rural protests against the working conditions of agricultural labourers. Stowmarket fire brigade were kept busy in the nearby villages.
An account book kept by the brigade at the time lists the expenses of each call out. Three fires in Stowupland are detailed: one at the Tithe Farm (Now The Uplands) where a barn and cottage were destroyed and two at Columbine Hall Farm.  The expenses for these last two fires were as follows.

Expenses occasioned by the fires at Mr Boby’s
May 27th             Horses for the engine & post lads £1:16. Distributed to men who assisted out all night  £18:17:6
June 25th            Horses etc for the engines  £1:16. Distributed to men. £16:4. Suppers for the engine men being very wet £3. Frewer etc £15
June 30th                Recd. From the Fire office £8. Aug 9th ditto £17:1. Balance due £17:7

The horses would have been hired from The Fox Hotel along with the post boys who would ride on the horses drawing the engines. The Fox also provided the suppers for the firemen. The large amount paid to those who assisted indicate that over a hundred must have turned up to help as they would have only got a couple of shillings each. Frewer was the brigade captain. The whole operation was very expensive, but the service of the fire engine didn’t come free, the tenant of the property was expected to recompense the brigade for the expense, fortunately Mr. Boby seems to have been insured.


And from Charles Rayner Freeman’s Accounts books Neil shares more background on the expenses involved in a 19th century fire service.

 In September 1854, a fire at Bramford Farm in Mill Street destroyed the barn, stable and outhouse and damaged the house. The work of rebuilding was done by builder Francis Betts.

According to the Ipswich Chronicle , Nov 24th 1826, a fire broke at the wheelwright’s shop of Mr Hart.