Liverpool Mercury, Jan 17th 1896



An alarming fire which resulted in the complete destruction of Eccleston Old Corn Mill, near St Helens, and serious damage to several cottages adjoining, occurred last night. The corn mill was an old brick building three storeys in height, about 25yds in length, and with five cottages houses, forming one block, belonging to Sir Gilbert GREENALL of Warrington. The block is situated close to the well known Mill Dam, a somewhat secluded country spot on the outskirts of the borough of St Helens, and the extensive conflagration last night, occasioned the wildest excitement in the surrounding district.

The corn mill was tenanted by Mr Thomas HAYTON, who resides in one of the adjoining houses and in addition to carrying on business as a corn miller, also conducted a joinery and wheelwrighting business. It appears that about 7pm last night Mr HAYTON was working in his joiner’s shop when by some means a paraffin lamp was upset, the blazing oil ran over the floor and ignited some shavings. In an effort to put out the fire Mr HAYTON severely burned his hand. The flames spread rapidly and in a few moments the contents of the room were practically a mass of fire. In the meantime the alarm had been raised and the occupants of the cottages commenced to remove their furniture into the surrounding fields fearing the entire block was doomed to destruction.

Information of the outbreak was received at St Helens Town Hall at about 8pm and Supt YELLAND and Sgt SISSON and a body of men, with the steamer and hose reel, proceeded to the spot with all haste. On their arrival they found the corn mill burning fiercely, the roof having fallen in and the roofs of three adjoining houses were on fire. The flames, fanned by the strong winds which were blowing, lit up the surrounding district and attracted a great crowd of onlookers. The steamer was run near to the dam and four jets were soon got to work. The efforts of the brigade were directed to save the valuable cottage property, and happily they were successful to that extent.

The flames which had caught the roofs of the three cottages referred to were soon extinguished, and after 2hrs arduous labour, the brigade obtained a mastery over the conflagration in the corn mill. The latter building was completely gutted, and the brigade continued to play on the smouldering embers until a late hour to prevent any further outbreak.

The cottage next to the corn mill suffered to a considerable extent, the roof being practically destroyed. It was tenanted by John MATHER a labourer. The next house was tenanted by Chas MATHER also a labourer and the third house by Thomas HAYTON the tenant of the corn mill and joinery and wheelwright business. The roofs of both these houses were more or less damaged. The remaining two houses which escaped damage owing to the energetic actions of the brigade are tenanted by Richard ROUGHLEY and Thomas WARING respectively.

In every case the tenants and their friends removed their goods and furniture away from the burning buildings, but after the flames had been mastered the goods were again carried into the cottages. It is understood the block of buildings is covered by insurance, and the contents partially insured. The total damage, which amounts to a considerable sum, could not be estimated last night.


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