1898: Huge farm fire near Cuckfield


The farmyard fire which broke out about 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon at Great Bentley farm, a well-known holding on the side of the state line between Cuckfield and Balcolmbe, is the largest far of its kind known in the district for a great many years.


Practically the whole harvest of the year has gone, are year’s labour consumed in the night. The origin is yet unknown. The scene on Thursday was one of demolition, the whole stack-yard being in a heap of smouldering ash, the more lofty heaps of debris blazing fitfully as the wind fanned the flames.


In all eight stacks were reduced to ashes. The Burgess Hill and Hayward’s Heath fire brigades have had hay heavy task. On Thursday night the Hayward’s Heath brigade again went out to relive the Burgess Hill man, the fire not yet being extinguished.


The Burgess Hill engine quickly pumped the farmyard pond down to the mud. A brook nearby was also pumped low, and a move was made to a stream over 300 yards away. This was hard work for the engines, but the stream was worked for several hours. The nearer brook having been damned and water there becoming available, the engine was moved back to the brook, where it now is.


See efforts of the brigade saved a granary at the end of the barn and two haystacks south of the granary. The fire has destroyed a barn, three haystacks, two oat sticks, a wheat stack, and two straw sticks. A quantity of unthrashed oats and beans was destroyed with the barn. Mr Smerdon, the tenant, is insured in a Scottish Fire Office.


Sussex Agricultural Express, 1 October 1898


Painting: Hans Smidth - A Farm on Fire - KMS3210 - Statens Museum for Kunst Wikimedia public domain image.


Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

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