Fire Tragedy – Shocking Mishap Old Man Burnt to Death – Three Horses Perish

February 1931

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 20 February 1931

Fire Tragedy
Shocking Mishap
Old Man Burnt to Death
Three Horses Perish in Flames

The Victim.

William Eady, aged 75, an old age pensioner in the employ of Mrs. Emma Buckley, haulage contractor, of 4, Woodside View, Denaby Main, was burned to death on Tuesday night when a disastrous fire occurred at Mrs. Buckley’ stables (where Brady was in the habit of sleeping), opposite the Denaby United Football Club’s ground in Tickhill Square.

Three carthorses in the stable also perished, four motor lorries and two carts were destroyed and considerable damage was done to an adjoining garage. The fire broke out at about 6.40 p.m. and though the alarm was given very promptly the buildings, which were largely of wood, were soon a mass of flames. When the Denaby and Conisborough fire brigades arrived within 15 minutes of receiving the alarm the flames had got such a firm hold that it was only possible to confine the fire to the buildings immediately involved.

Had the wind been from the east it is possible that the outbreak would have had still more serious consequences, for a large quantity of wood was stored in the yard of Robinson, Son and Nephew, building contractors, next door to Mrs. Buckley’s and houses in Tickhill Square would have been endangered.


The Mexborough fire brigade was summoned and arrived soon after the Conisborough brigade, but their services were not utilised and they stood by. A length of hose which had been run out by men at the Welfare Institute greatly assisted the brigade.

A large crowd soon gathered, for the flames were so bright that the glare could be clearly seen at Mexborough. In all this crowd, however, no one seemed to be aware that a man was trapped in the blazing building till an employee of Mrs. Buckley arrived and said “There is old Eady in there.” The story of this dramatic disclosure was told to our representative by Mr. Tom Hill, of 26, Montagu Avenue, Conanby, who was in the Welfare Institute when the alarm was given and immediately tan down to the stable in company with three Denahy men, Alfred Ackroyd, Jack Mellor, and William Jones.

A Sickening Sight.

Mr. Bill said when they reached the stables they could see a glow on the side of the stables justified nearest the road and dense clouds of smoke prevented them from approaching, so they went round to the back to see if they could get in there. The wind blew the smoke away from them on this side and, looking through the window , they saw three horses plunging and rearing, and heard them screaming. The stable was supported by poles at this point, and thinking that if these were removed the building might collapse and release the animals, Mr. Hill and his companions wrenched away these supports. The walls, however, held, and the men then smashed the windows in the hope that the wind would keep the flames away from the horses for a time. The fire however, continued to spread easterly. “We saw the horses fall one after the other,” went on Mr. Hill. “I turned away before the last one fell. I could not bear the sight.

It was at this point that the information that Eady was trapped in the building was given, the man who brought the intelligence having heard him cough while bedding down the horses a little after 5 p.m.  He had evidently been in the habit of sleeping in the stable for some time past.

Jets As Battering Rams

As soon as the fireman learned of Eady’s presence in the burning building they burst in the already collapsing walls with powerful jets from their hoses. The old man’s body was found huddled in a corner so charred as to be unrecognisable. The bodies of the horses were also practically reduced to cinders. Sgt. T. Gregory, who was in charge of the Conisborough fire brigade and was one of those who discovered Eady’s body, said to a “Times ” representative:

“We had been playing on the fire for about 20 minutes before we knew there was a man in it.” The sergeant explained that it was virtually impossible to check the fire owing to the inflammable nature of building and their contents. Besides a quantity of hay and straw there were about 20 cans of petrol in addition to the petrol in the tanks of the lorries.

It is thought that Eady was unable to get out of the stable because the fire started in the part of the building where Eady slept and the plunging of the terrified horses would prevent him reaching the door.

Eady was a native of Peterbrough and came to live in this district 50 years ago when he obtained work at Thrybergh Colliery. After working there for twenty years he went to work at the Cadeby Colliery and later at the Conisborough Glass Works. His wife died six years ago, and since then he  has been working for Mrs. Buckley.

The scene of the fire drew great crowds on Wednesday. The body of Eady was removed to the public mortuary and the carcases of the three horses were covered from the sight of visitors. Officials of the Denaby United Football Club expressed their sympathy. They had had the privilege of using the horses for rolling the football ground.