Henry CAUNCE

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Inscription Police monument Toxteth Park cemetery
Liverpool Mercury, Oct 22nd, 1873

GREAT FIRE IN LIVERPOOL

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY AND LOSS OF LIFE

A fire of a very serious character, entailing the loss of valuable property to the amount of many thousands of pounds, and unfortunately attended with the loss of human life, occurred last night in Liverpool. In the neighbourhood of Bankhall there are a large number of warehouses stored with valuable produce, some of a very inflammable nature, including petroleum, and a fire occurring in that locality necessarily causes a great amount of alarm. Last night the excitement in the neighbourhood was intense, in consequence of the conflagration breaking out in the very midst of the warehouse property.

In Foster St there is an extensive block of warehouses belonging to Messers David and Lewis HUGHES of Fenwick Chambers, Fenwick Court. The block extends the whole length of the street and runs back to Birchall St, a distance of about 50yds. The whole of the warehouses at the present time are filled with merchandise of various kinds including, corn, cotton and wool. The fire broke out in warehouse No 1020, Foster St. It seems the warehouseman and some of his assistants went to tea during the evening and after returning after about half an hour, he discovered the cotton stored in the 2nd, story of the warehouse was on fire. He communicated the fact to PC 491 who was on duty near the place, and the officer proceeded at once to Derby Rd fire station, when at once an engine and members of the fire brigade proceeded to the spot and immediately played upon the fire. A telegram from Derby Rd was sent to the central and district fire stations and in a very short time the fire brigade under Supt HANCOX and Dept Supt MOORE, with the steam fire engine LIVINGSTON and other engines arrived at the scene but by this time the flames had made alarming progress.

They had extended upwards to the 4th storey and along the whole length of the building to Birchall St. The wind at this time was blowing a gale, the flames shooting upwards and myriads of sparks being cast abroad, it was feared the fire would spread to adjoining buildings. When it became known some of the warehouses in the locality stored petroleum and other combustible matter great anxiety prevailed to confine the fire to the warehouse where it originated. There was an ample supply of water and the firemen worked with great energy and bravery under the able direction of their chiefs. So great however was the fear that the flames would extend to other property that Major GREIG, who was in command, thought it desirable in the course of the evening to send to town for reinforcements of police and ladders.

The steam fire engine LIVINGSTON poured on an immense quantity of water on the burning mass, there was also 9 other jets in play. The fire, however, for some time still continued to gain, and, notwithstanding, the exertions made it reached the upper story and between 9 and 10 o clock the roof of the warehouse fell in, followed by a great burst of flame from the top and the fire communicated to the adjoining warehouse. At this time the aspect of the affairs was most serious, but, owing to the excellent arrangements of the chiefs of police and the steadiness and bravery of their men, what at one time threatened to be a most serious calamity, was averted. The water from the engines was continued to be poured in torrents of the burning roofs,, the firemen frequently in jeopardy of their lives, ascended to the top of the burning pile, and directed jets of water to those parts that were burning most fiercely. Between 9 and 10 when the fire was at its fiercest the wind fell, the fire brigade redoubled their efforts, the flames were brought under control about 11. The occurrence attracted a large number of spectators, at the scene when the fire was at its height, as witnessed by the passengers on the passing trains on the Southport line, was striking in the extreme. When the intelligence reached Liverpool that a serious fire had broken out in this dangerous locality, the utmost anxiety was felt, especially by those who had produce stored in the warehouses at the north end of the town.

One of the fire brigade who so nobly exerted themselves at this fire lost his life in the discharge of his duty, and another officer, it is feared has received fatal injuries. About 11 o clock one of the members of the salvage corps named SMITH went into the jigger loft of the warehouse, when he was horrified to find the body of a police fireman lying there. He obtained assistance and the body was found to be that of fire policeman 792 [CRUME] [this is as in newspaper name is CAUNCE], life was extinct. It is supposed the poor fellow went up into the loft to direct one of the jets, and being overcome by the dense smoke, fell down and was burnt to death. The body was carried to an adjoining building. The deceased had been in the force several years and leaves a wife and two children to mourn his loss. A short time afterwards fire policeman 612 was found lying in the building in an insensible state, he to had been overcome by the smoke in the discharge of his duty, on being rescued he was taken by car to the Northern Hospital, where he received prompt medical attention, but at midnight he continued in a dangerous state.

Among the officials taking part in the direction of operations to extinguish the fire were Major GREIG. CB, head constable, Chief Supt RIDE, Supt HANCOX, Dept Supt MOORE, Inspectors, KERRIN, MACAULAY, MC CONCHIE, and TOMLINSON, the Salvage brigade were under the direction of Supt YELLAND and Mr CORLEY. The loss will be serious but it is said to be covered by insurance. At midnight the fire was still smouldering, the steam fire engine continued playing on it.

Liverpool Mercury, Oct 24th, 1873

THE FATAL FIRE AT SANDHILLS

Yesterday the borough coroner Mr Clarke ASPINALL held an inquest on the body of Henry CAUNCE, aged 26, of 64 Orlent St, who lost his life at the fire at Sandhills on Tuesday night, PC [855] WADDINGTON said the deceased was a fireman in the borough police force, No 702, which he joined in June 1871 but was only made a fireman 2 or 3wks ago. Witness was at the fire but did not observe the deceased till between 9 and 10 o clock, when he saw him by the glare of the fire, lying on his face on the 4th floor. At first he thought he was lying down to get air, but soon afterwards one of the men of the salvage corps found he was dead. His neck was swollen the tie was very tight and the tie had to be broken. A doctor saw him on the spot and found life extinct. His body was first taken to the Collingwood Dock station and on Wednesday removed to the deceased late residence.

Liverpool Mercury, Oct 25th, 1873

THE FATAL FIRE AT SANDHILLS

The remains of fire policeman Henry CAUNCE, who lost his life in the brave discharge of his duty at the recent disastrous fire at Sandhills, were publicly buried yesterday at Smithdown Rd, cemetery. The poor fellow though a comparatively new constable, was very much liked in the force and out of respect to his memory all his colleagues and superior officers who were able to attended the funeral.

The procession left the house of the deceased, 64 Orlent St, Heyworth St, Everton about 2pm. It was headed by the police band playing the Dead March in Saul. Immediately behind the band were the fire brigade under Supt HANCOX, and a fire engine upon which the body was laid, next there were three mourning coaches and then the salvage corps, the police constables about 200 in number walking four deep, the police clerks, detectives, superintendents, inspectors, Chief Supt RIDE and the head constable Major GREIG CB, mounted. A large number of people assembled to witness the departure of the funeral, and every street traversed with the mournful cortege was thickly lined with spectators. On arrival of the procession at the cemetery the body was interred in the vault reserved for officers who may lose their lives at fires, and which contains the remains of poor HARDAKER who lost his life at the Sailors Home, and several others. At the conclusion of the ceremony the procession was reformed, and marched away from the cemetery.

Copyright 2002 / To date

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