Hello. For those history-lovers amongst you may like to know that Tuesday (5th Sept) marked 351 years since the Great Fire Of Beckworth happened. It sadly slipped my mind, and I sadly completely forgot last year also, which would have been 350 years!!! Anyway, to fill you in… The fire was thought to have been started deliberately, in a very fancy cake makers in Padding Lane (now Floyd Street), by two ruffian teenage graffiti artists Trevor Shrewsbury and Vince Dorchester, in a copycat arson attack following news of the Great Fire Of London had been reported by Beckworth’s town crier. Like the capitol’s big fire many dwellings were destroyed (three including the town brothel) and a few people made homeless for a week. Thankfully in a just a few short hours the ferocious fire was extinguished by a crack team of two volunteer fire-fighters using buckets of urine kindly passed-along the street by near neighbours and and bottles of past it’s sell-by-date milk donated by the local dairy. In no time Beckworth was quickly rebuilt and a small statue of a flaming cake now stands a few hundred yards from the exact spot where the fire is thought to have probably started. Mssrs Shrewsbury and Dorchester were hanged from the town’s gibbet the next day for their heinous crime and their families sent to Coventry on a cart (giving rise to the idiom). Then, in an unforeseen twist, a few months later the owner of the cake shop, a Keith Ippling Esq, confessed it was all an insurance scam and so was also hanged. His family was sent to Eastbourne as Coventry was no longer admitting criminal’s next of kin after so much trouble with the Shrewsbury and Dorchester families.
The legend of the town’s fire lives on in the familiar children’s rhyme Beckworth’s Burning made into a chart-topping rap single (and MP3 download) by Professor Green featuring One Direction
(Beckworth’s Burning, Beckworth’s Burning, Fetch the Neighbours, Fetch the Neighbours, Pour On Urine, Pour On Urine, Fire! Fire!)
So the next time you’re passing the town’s vandalised cake statue spare a thought for the poor souls who lost everything in the great fire of 1666. Thanks, Bill Christchurch. Beckworth Historical Society.