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1891: Shop explodes in South Road

Sussex Agricultural Express - Friday 09 January 1891



—An alarming gas explosion occurred on Tuesday evening at the shop of Miss Peacock, grocer, etc., South-road, Hayward’s Heath. 

The shop, on being shut up, appears to have become filled with gas owing to leakage, and upon a boy, employed by Miss Peacock, going into the shop to light up for some purpose the explosion occurred. There was very loud report, and the shop windows were blown across the street. The lad was somewhat injured by the shock. Mr. Newington, a resident of Hayward’s Heath, who was passing at the time, luckily escaped injury. 

South Road, Haywards Heath c1905 courtesy of John Twisleton 'Celebrating Haywards Heath' Blogspot

The noise of the explosion, the crash of glass, and the screams of the boy, soon brought plenty of assistance. Besides the windows being blown out some further damage was done to the shop and its contents, but beyond this the effects of the explosion do not appear to have been serious. 

From further particulars which have been received respecting the explosion of gas which took place at the residence of Miss Peacock grocer etc., Hayward’s Heath, on Tuesday evening, it appears that the cause is traced to the lad Sawers going into sitting-room and noticing smell of gas, and calling for light in order to examine the chandelier. 

The force of the explosion took a most eccentric course. It passed through the door of the sitting room, down a passage, through a living-room in which Miss Peacock was sitting, and then demolished a door leading into the shop, the windows of which were blown in atoms across the road. The revolving shutters were down at the time, but these were apparently blown up, allowing the force of the explosion to pass underneath. The explosions shook the houses around, and the report was heard a considerable distance off. The narrow escape of the people in the house was remarkable. Miss Peacock and another lad who were in the shop were untouched. With the exception of the door leading into the shop, which was smashed, the living-room escaped damage.



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