1926 fire at Neck’s stores in the Square

Fire was a regular risk in any crowded town with thatched roofs and bakers’ ovens, but in addition Moreton suffered from a rather limited water supply, with the Wray Brook as the only source apart from individual wells. Fire certainly did much to shape the town, most notably in the case of the fire of 1845 that devastated a large area between Cross Street, Fore Street and Greenhill. As a result of the destruction of houses in the path of the fire, the New Cut between Greenhill and Cross Street was created.

Summary of reports of fires

The following is a list of some of the newsworthy fires reported in George Friend’s book; follow the links for more detailed information or pictures.

1805 June 15: a fire in John Neck’s house in Nod Court, where he was drying oak bark for tanning. (from Treleaven’s diary)

1808 Feb 4: a serious fire at the Dolphin Inn in Lime Street (Mr Tozer), controlled with the help of the paroled prisoners. (from Treleaven’s diary)

1816 Jan 13: [a fire in] French’s Court (Eagle Place ?) behind Mr Thomas White’s house destroyed 15 houses. (from Treleaven’s diary)

1816 Nov 24: three houses, outbuildings, workshops and the Wesleyan Meeting House on the south of Cross Street

1836 Nov.: Isaac Billett’s ropeworks in Court Street

1838 Sept 11: the White Horse (Samuel Gray), 14 houses and many outbuildings in Pound Street, and Miss Stevens house between the White Horse and the White Hart. Insurance companies’ fire engines were summoned by sending a rider to Exeter.

1843 Nov.: Cann’s wheelwrights in Forder Street

1845 Sept. 12: the most entensive fire started in Mr Dayment’s bakehouse in Back Lane near the Bell, and spread right along the north side of Cross Street as far as the Church House (i.e. nearly to Cross Tree House) as well as through part of Fore Street. The New Cut was created by knocking down houses in an effort to stop the fire.

1849 Nov.: Rear premises of Cann’s wheelwrights in Forder Street

1852 Jan. 6: Houses just west of Greenhill House, including the former Baptist Meeting. House behind it.

1854, Aug. 10: a fire started in Mr Weeks’ (the carrier’s) stables in Pound Street and spread to Court Street, destroying 10 houses in Pound Street and eleven in Court Street.

Cross Street – 1864 fire

1864 October 6: a fire on the south side of Cross Street (shown above) destroyed the Wesleyan Chapel and three houses with two cottages behind.

1913 March 3: a fire in Pound Street did considerable damage.

1926 March 23: a fire in New Street destroyed all the shops from the corner with Ford Street to the Co-op, including the house where George Bidder was born and the premises once occupied by the Treleavens. Click here for local and Exeter newspaper reports of this fire.

1956 March 19: a fire on the thatched roof of the Old Brass Kettle tea shop.