GMS News 110 February 2018



Last Month’s Meeting

Sarah Grazebrook, author and former actor, opened our programme for the new year with her talk entitled “Crooked Pieces”, the title of her novel about Suffragettes.

She started by giving us a light-hearted account of her morphing from actor to novelist. Then, after her first successful novel, her foray into other genres, such as Mills & Boon, before deciding to write an historical novel. After much deliberation she settled on the Suffragette movement as a theme. Her novel, “Crooked Pieces, tells the story of a servant girl, Maggie, who becomes deeply involved in the movement. She interspersed her account of the Suffragettes with readings from her book, which brought her acting skills to the fore, adopting cockney, Mancunian and upper crust accents as required. Her talk was both informative and entertaining and a fine start to the year.

February Meeting

Rhiannon Chappell, daughter of Debbie and Steve, is in her final year at the University of Kent studying Psychology. At our next meeting on, 15th February,she will give us a talk on “Bad Decisions and How to Make Them”.

People like to think they make good decisions but her presentation hopes to show how most of us can be misdirected or influenced into making bad decisions.

There can be serious consequences to this, when serving on a jury for example.

We meet as usual at the Village Hall at 7.30.


Fire in Great Mongeham

In the mid nineteenth century the railways brought cheap supplies of coal. With the introduction of flued chimneys the coal could burn hotter. Coal caused a much greater accumulation of soot in the chimneys than wood. Glowing soot would be carried out of the chimneys and land on nearby roofs. Thatched roofs were likely to catch on fire. Here are some fires in the village which were reported in the local press.

Pixwell Lane The first took place on 20th January, 1866. A cottage at the top of Pixwell Lane (Picks Hill in the report) where Mr. Williams lived. It was the property of Mr. Parker, the blacksmith at Church House. Although the cause was not known it was supposed that some sparks from a chimney fell on to the roof and thus became ignited. It was seen from Great Mongeham Farm, and assistance was soon on the spot. Mr. Williams lost everything, but a collection was made to help him in his distress.

Leather_Bottle_small The Leather Bottle On 25th April 1874 sparks from  an outhouse, in which a pig had earlier been killed, fell on the dry thatched roof of the Leather Bottle. The mediaeval inn was burnt to the ground in spite of the efforts of a fire engine from Hill’s Brewery, owners of the inn. A hose was connected to the pond opposite the Three Horse Shoes.  The present building dates from this time. The photograph shows the newly rebuilt Leather Bottle.

The Three Horseshoes In December 1881 the fire was at the Three Horseshoes. A spark from the chimney of the kitchen at the back of the house caught its thatched roof. Forty men with buckets brought the fire under control before it spread to the thatched roof of the main building (now tiled).

Mongeham Brewery However the most frightening fire happened on 10th October 1877 when a spark from a chimney lodged in the thatch of old buildings on the premises of Hill’s Brewery on Mongeham Street.

Brewery Farmhouse and Brewery cottages are so named because of the brewery sited there for more than two centuries until closed by Thompson’s Breweries of Walmer who bought up Hill’s Breweries of Deal in the early 1900s to acquire their chain of pubs.

The fateful fire happened on Monday 10th October 1877, and was first noticed about 2.30. A spark from a nearby chimney caught the thatch of a nearby barn and the fire quickly spread to other thatched barns. The strong North wind spread the fire quickly among the group of buildings and soon smoke was seen issuing from the malthouse opposite (now the derelict barn). A nearby group of haystacks was soon engulfed, and thatched cottages  such as Champlain’s Well and the Noke were threatened. People cleared out their goods and chattels into the road, determined at least to save their furniture if they lost their houses. Lines of volunteers with buckets kept the roofs doused with water, keeping them safe until the Deal Fire Brigade and fire engines from the Royal Marines Barracks arrived at about four o’clock.

Store houses were gutted and nearly the whole stock of barrelled ales were lost.. Indeed, at this point of the fire the ground literally flowed with beer, and  the men working among it took many dips in it, allegedly to alleviate their thirst.  

Fortunately the efforts of the bucket chain kept the cottages safe, the only serious damage happening to the insured premises of Hill’s Brewery, Mrs. Bray’s malthouse and Mr. Waters’ corn and fodder stacks, similar to the ones below. 

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