After The Fire: Fires in historic Hampshire photographs

Join our Community Manager Emma Banks as she takes a look through Hampshire Cultural Trust's historic photography collection. This week Emma has found a collection of historic photos capturing the aftermath of fires in Hampshire.

"In the time before social media, just how fast did news travel? Well actually pretty quickly! The equivalent of a ‘post’ or ‘Tweet’ was a postcard or telegram. Post was mostly carried by rail and depending on where you lived, you could receive post the same day it was sent. As they say - bad news travels fast!

While looking through the historic photographs collections I noticed a theme emerging that I call ‘after the fire’; a group of images taken of a scene or building after a fire had taken place, or sometimes while it was still being extinguished! Many of these are postcards that were sent to family and friends to share the news.

In the late 19th and early 20th century there would have been a significant number of fires in Hampshire buildings. This happened for a number of reasons, including the use of gas lighting, open flames from candles and hearths, and flammable materials being used in manufacturing.

There was also no central county fire brigade at this time, with lots of smaller town brigades responding to local incidents with limited equipment and manpower.

It would be interesting to visit the spots where these incidents occurred, and find out what did happen after the fire…"

Firemen in the ruins of a building after a fire, High Street, Eastleigh, c.1920.
Firemen hosing down fire-damaged and gutted Burberry, John Mare and Wagstaff shops at a large fire, known as The Great Fire of Basingstoke, c.1905.
Group of people in front of fire damaged buildings, Basingstoke, c.1900-1910.
Fire at Amery Farm, Alton, 1905.
After the Fire, Winchester Street, Basingstoke, 1903.
Group of people outside the fire gutted pub, The Old House At Home, Basingstoke, 1915.

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Emma Banks

Collections Programme Manager
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