Fire at the "Home" for fallen women, Edge Hill, 1864

Liverpool Mercury, Sept 13th, 1864

Of the "Home" Edge Hill

Destruction by Fire

On Friday morning at an early hour, the "Home" 52 Mason St, Edge Hill, was destroyed by fire. The institution an asylum for fallen females, was opened in 1860, and has been supported principally by the inmates themselves, who have been employed in washing and sewing, any deficiency in the funds being supplied by subscriptions from the charitable public. The number of inmates at the time of the fire was 50, besides, Mrs WILDE the matron, Miss WALLACE the workroom matron. All these persons were in bed at the outbreak of the fire, the dormitories extending over greater part of the upper stories of the house, and especially over that part of the building used as a laundry. It appears on Friday morning between 4 and 4.30, one of the inmates named Ellen JOHNSON, whilst in bed in the dormitory over the laundry, perceived a smell of fire, she became alarmed and got up at once and proceeded to the laundry. She discovered the furniture in that room was in flames, the floor was also on fire, but for the timely discovery many of the inmates must have suffered very considerably, probably the lives of many of them would have fallen sacrifice to the fire. JOHNSON at once and with prudent alacrity alarmed the inmates, and also informed two police-constables, 714 and 162 who were in the street.

These officers assisted in getting the inmates from the building safely. Fortunately not one person suffered the slightest injury. Their confusion and alarm may easily be imagined. The greater number of them were taken into a yard at the back of the institution, others were kindly received by Mr BRERETON, beerhouse keeper, into the house opposite at 55 Mason St, and a few were taken into the Magdalen Institution, Mount Vernon-green. Among those received by Mr BRERETON were Mrs WILDE and Miss WALLACE, the Rev Dr V. M. WHITE, secretary of the "Home" was quickly at the institution and subsequently had the inmates removed to the school room under his chapel in Islington, where they continued during the day, and were supplied with proper refreshments.

Information was communicated to the officials at Hatton Garden central fire station and Olive St fire station, and a reel from the latter place was almost directly on the spot. It was followed by an engine from Prescot St, station, and afterwards arrived Superintendent HEWITT with an engine from Hatton Garden. Then came the West of England superintended by Mr BARRATT, and another from the fire station Brownlow Hill. Several hydrants and stand pipes were put down, some which supplied two engines with water, besides which, five branches were brought to play upon the fire. Unfortunately the wind at the time was very high, giving force to the flames which spread with great rapidity. Nearly the whole of the building was gutted, and the walls alone left standing. The fire lasted about two and a half hours, its origin has not been determined, but it is supposed to have arisen from over-heating of the drying apparatus in the basement story.

The contents of the building, the furniture of the rooms, clothes of the inmates were almost all destroyed. The furniture was insured with the Royal Insurance Company for 500. The building was the property of Messers J. and J.LEIGH of Cheshire, from whom Mr PROCTOR of 10 George's Crescent is the agent. It was insured in the Guardian Office for 1000. Major GREIG head-constable of the borough was early in attendance and directed the fire brigade. The chairman of the watch committee Mr F. CLINT, Major FAULKNER of the Salvage Brigade, superintending the brigade and Mr DUNCAN, water-engineer, were also present, and the following officers of the borough police, Divisional Superintendent QUICK, Sergeant's WALKER, BOYD and HAYNES, Inspector's SCOTT, MOORE, HANCOX, PARKINS and WILSON. The total amount of damage caused by the fire is estimated at 2000.It is very encouraging to report that the conduct of the inmates under the trying circumstances was most laudable, they were all forthcoming afterwards and seemed overwhelmed with gratitude for their safety. Major MELLY has kindly placed at the disposal of the committee of the institution for a fortnight the commodious premises at 48 Mason St, used as the storehouse and drill yard of the 4th L.A.V, and Messers J and W. JEFFERY and Co of Crompton House, have liberally supplied free of cost, beds and bedding for each of the inmates.

It is hoped that under the circumstances the public will readily respond to the invitation which no doubt the committee of the institution will put forth for assistance, that funds may not be wanting to re-establish the asylum and extend its advantages. We understand that Major MELLY with his accustomed generosity, has already promised 50 towards the expense of erecting new buildings. Several gentlemen have offered 100 and 50 each for the same object and we anticipate an equally willing and hearty co-operation with the committee from generous and charitable public.

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