West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Local History

BIG FIRE IN PONTEFRACT

PICTURE FRAMER'S WORKSHOP DESTROYED

26TH MAY 1923

The workshop associated with the name of Mr. Job Corfield, picture framer and photographer, and known as the Bon-Bon Studio, in Ropergate, Pontefract, was the scene of a disastrous fire which was discovered late on Thursday evening. The workshop is situated behind the Bon-Bon Café and is owned by Mr. J.C. Broderick, of Castleford, the proprietor of the Café. On one side it is adjoined by Mr. J.W. Sangster’s house and the County Court offices, and on the other by the offices of several professional gentlemen.

It appears that on several occasions during Thursday the staff of the Café remarked on a smell of burning, but this was attributed to the café cooking operations. At 10-10 however, Mrs Stones (a daughter of Mr. Broderick), who resides at the Café, was locking up for the night, when she heard a crash of glass, and looking across the yard saw the workshop in flames, which were already pouring through the window.

Much startled, she warned the other occupants, and herself ran across the road to Mr. A. Heseltine at Messrs. Moxon and Barker’s offices, who, on hearing what was wrong, despatched a young man to ring the fire bells.

Within a very short time the Fire Brigade, under Capt. F. Whardall and Mr. J.W. Gardiner (Vice-Captain), were on the spot with the motor fire engine – which, however, was not brought into action. A hose was quickly laid from a stand pipe in Ropergate and a jet was speedily brought to play upon the now fiercely-burning contents of the building. It was soon found that this would be sufficient to master the flames and prevent them from spreading, but it was not until 2 o’clock yesterday morning that the Brigade were able to cease work.

It is understood that Mr. Corfield left the premises, the upper portion of which was used by him for residential purposes, early on Thursday morning with the intention of visiting a sister in Staffordshire, and, as he had not returned yesterday afternoon we are unable to give any authoritative estimate of the damage, or to state whether the stock was insured.

A most casual examination, however, was sufficient to show that the whole stock of picture frame mouldings, cameras, enlarging apparatus and photographic appliances, had been completely destroyed by the combined attack of fire and water, and it was obvious that there could be very little salvage.

In addition to Mr. Corfield’s own stock, considerable loss must have been sustained by his customers, as amongst the debris were discovered quite a number of deceased soldiers medallions, war medals, etc., which had been sent for framing, whilst there must also have been destroyed a large number of pictures and photos on the premises for the same purpose.

The interior of the building will have to be re-timbered completely, for the flames worked their way up the stair case – which was entirely destroyed – through the flooring, and through one portion of the roof. This loss, we understand, is wholly covered by Mr. Broderick’s insurances.

This is the second time Mr. Corfield’s premises have been visited by fire, for on November 4, 1920 (Statutes Day) his then premises in Rochford Court were completely destroyed, the damage being estimated at £1,000 of which only £400 was covered by insurance.

We learned last evening that Mr. Corfield’s loss is only partly covered by insurance.

The above account, reproduced from a local newspaper report dated 26th May 1923 was kindly loaned to us by Mr. John O.E. Holmes.


 

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