Fire in George Street
Isle of Wight Observer September 15 1860
A fire – the origin of which is involved in stupidity – broke out on the premises of Mrs Read, George-street, on Monday night, and was near upon ending disastrously. It would be folly to call this event “an accident”, as it was the result of a careless fellow, lacking a watchful mother by his side, who had taken a book to read in bed, and after some time fell asleep, and, as a matter of course, the candle fell over and set fire to the bed and clothes. Now, if this individual had been merely roasted for his trouble, and the evil ended there, it would have mattered but little; it is endangering a neighbourhood, and the risk of burning innocent persons in their beds that is of consequence. As it was he woke merely frightened, and then committed the wise act of quitting the premises in a half nude state, and going to the Pier, where he met a Coastguard, who gave the alarm by firing off a pistol, nearly causing the hearts of some of the Volunteer Rifles, who heard it, to bound out of their breasts. Assistance being obtained, they proceeded to the fire, where discretion and promptitude soon put the fire out. Considerable damage, however, was done; the bed and bedding, the window blinds, a chest of drawers, and other furniture were burnt, and the scurtain (sic) board was also ignited, so that a most suffocating atmosphere filled the room. Notwithstanding this, thanks to the energy of Mr Bloxam (who resided next door to the house on fire) and to Messrs Barnes, Kendall, Boyce and others, the conflagration was put out before the arrival of the engine, which had been sent for as a wise precautionary measure, and which was quickly in attendance. We hope this fellow in future will have a staid careful woman to attend him to counteract his childish conduct, and prevent him placing the lives and property of others, in jeopardy again.
Robert Bloxam was a surgeon, who lived with his family and several servants in Denbigh House – now a dental clinic, near to the junction with Cross Street. At the time of the 1861 census, the house next door was a lodging house, run by a widow, Mrs Mary A Read. Denbigh House – with, presumably, Mrs Read’s house beyond – can be seen on the extreme right of the image below.