Skip to main content

Blandford Throwback Facts IV

In 1731, the Great Fire of Blandford destroyed the greater part of the town. It started at about 2 o’clock in a soap boiler’s house. Only forty out of around five hundred houses escaped the fire. To add to the troubles, the town was suffering from a smallpox outbreak affecting around 150 people.

Following the Great Fire of Blandford an appeal for funds raised £16,151-10s-3d £16.151 51p) which included £1,200 from King George II and his wife, £200 from Bath and £136 from the Isle of Wight. Drury Lane Theatre in London put on a play to raise money for ‘the poor unhappy sufferers from the late fire.’

The practice of ducking ‘incorrigible shrews and scolds’ was discontinued with the burning of the town’s ducking stool in the fire.

In 1733, there were thirty inns in Blandford.Composer William Knapp wrote an anthem in commemoration of the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford.

In 1735, Blandford Church was constructed at the cost of £3,200 and it cost four years to complete.

In 1738, because of the number of disorders in the town, the bailiff, vicar and 22 leading residents petitioned the magistrates to grant licenses to only 20 local innkeepers.

In 1739, one shilling & sixpence (7p) was paid by the Overseers of the Poor for curing John Pottle’s wife of the itch.

(Illustration: Blandford Fire 250th Anniversary stamp)



Popular posts from this blog

Chimney Sweep Tragedy

Crown Hotel, Blandford is reckoned to be one of Dorset’s oldest hostelries. Yet its most tragic day, during a long history, must surely be when a young chimney sweep lost his life. The chimney sweep, who was just a child, suffocated and was burnt to death in a Crown Hotel chimney which had been alight a little while before. ‘His cries were dreadful and no-one could give assistance. Part of the chimney was taken down before he was got out.’ (Salisbury & Winchester Gazette 27th March 1780) The lad had gone up one chimney and attempting to go down another had become stuck. At the time children were used to climb up chimneys to clean out soot deposits. With hands and knees, they would shimmy up narrow dark flue spaces packed thick with soot and debris. After the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford it was realised that it was important to sweep chimneys regularly while many rebuilt houses had narrower ones. Smaller chimneys and complicated flues were a potential death trap for children. The sw

Bravest Village Controversy

A Dorset village was once recognised as the bravest in England. That village was Shillingstone in North Dorset. After the outbreak of World War I, the newspaper the Weekly Dispatch inaugurated a competition for the village that sent, in the first six months of the war, the highest percentage of its population into the British Services. According to local newspaper, the Western Gazette Shillingstone sent 90 men out of a total population of 565. (Western Gazette Friday 26 th September 1919) Across the country,  365 other villages sent in their returns. However, the competition would not prove to be short of controversy. The award was made to Knowlton in Kent which with 39 inhabitants and six houses had sent 11 men. However, the Rector of Shillingstone, Dr Cooke protested that Knowlton was too small to be a village and in fact was a hamlet. The matter was referred to the Attorney General, Sir Frederick Smith who held that the original decision should stand as no minimum population ha

Tarrant Rushton's Nuclear Secret

Tarrant Rushton was a large RAF base used for glider operations during World War II. It was then taken over by Flight Refuelling for the conversion of aircraft for the development of aircraft in-flight refuelling. However, between 1958 & 1965, the Tarrant Rushton airfield had a much more secretive and less publicised role. This was in support of the nation’s nuclear bomber deterrent, as Tarrant Rushton airfield became a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) dispersal unit.   During 1958, contractors Costain reinforced the main runway and carried out other work to ensure the giant bomber aircraft could be accommodated. At times just a few miles from Blandford, there would have been up to four RAF Vickers Valiant bombers at Tarrant Rushton ready to become airborne in minutes charged with nuclear weapons. The bombers were from 148 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk. As there was no suitable accommodation at the airfield, an old US Air Force Hospital building at Martin was used. At the time, the