Fire at Cinderford Town Hall - PC Critchley & Mr Hoskold. (General)

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, February 23, 2019, 00:51 (465 days ago) @ Jefff

Was the fire accidental ?.

given the distances it's likely Mr Durke would employ local workers too ?

Here's the report on the Town Hall fire, sadly it seems it may not have been accidental...

This new hall, which has been in the course of construction nearly two years, was discovered soon after midnight on Saturday to be on fire. The discovery was made by P.C.'s Critchley and Cole, who at once raised an alarm, and succeeded in getting together 200 or 200 persons, who were quickly organised in two companies. The seat of the fire was ascertained to be in a small chamber on the second floor. Mr James White was despatched to Coleford for the new fire engine and staff. To protect the principal hall was the main object of those who took a leading part in extinguishing the fire, and by a determined effort this was done. Whilst the men were throwing water on the flames, the upper floor fell in with a heavy crash and soon afterwards the roof followed. The estimated cost of the damage is upwards of £ 300, and Mr Marfell, who is finishing the joinery work, will be a sufferer, the whole of his workmen's tools, benches, &c., having been burnt. It was not until six o'clock that the fire brigade reached the spot, by which time the fire was subdued. The building is believed to be uninsured, and the loss will therefore fall upon the shareholders, several of whom are working-men. Mr Hoskold thinks the fire must have been a wilful act.

Monmouthshire Merlin
23rd January 1869

Regarding the mention of the Police Constables, and also the lack of a fire brigade in Cinderford, the British History site says;

"The county police authority opened stations in several places in the Forest in the mid 19th century. A police station at Littledean Hill in 1869 moved to a new building in Cinderford town centre in 1877.

Cinderford had no fire service in 1869 when a blaze at the town hall, then under construction, was attended by the Coleford fire brigade. East Dean and United Parishes rural district council provided fire-fighting equipment for the town and for Ruspidge and Drybrook in 1895 but there was no regular fire brigade in Cinderford until after 1923. A fire station in Belle Vue Road, built by the county fire service in the mid 1960s, was replaced by a new station in Valley Road in 1987."


I've tried searching the PRs etc for PC Critchley, but no obvious references to him. He was mentioned in another forum post which shows he's become a Sergeant by 1875.

Searching the Glos Police Archives suggest this is him; so not a Forester.

List of Police Officers - 1860 - 1869

Warrant Joined Name Age Height Occupation Where born Highest rank Reason for leaving Force
2168. 9-10-1868. CRITCHLEY Charles. 19. 5ft 8 1/4. Gardner. Barton St Mary, Gloucester, Glos. Sergeant 1-7-1875. Superannuated 1-1-1889 on 1/8d per day.

I cannot find a PC Cole in the records.


I cannot find any suggestion of a "Mr Hoskold" in the PRs, but I can find one Hoskold living in Cinderford in the Census', so think this is him. I assume he was consulted as an adviser or even overseer on the ongoing building work.

1871 East Dean, Gloucestershire, England
Household Role Sex Age Birthplace
Henry D Hoskold Head M 39 Mining Civil Engineer. Surrey
William Hewlett Boarder M 19 Mining Civil Engineer. East Dean, Gloucestershire
Fanny Hewlett Visitor F 21 East Dean, Gloucestershire
John Rodway Ostler M 18 East Dean, Gloucestershire

FamilySearch shows that Henry Davis Hoskold born 1843 emigrated to Argentina in 1893, where he lived until his death in 1905. He wrote books about mining engineering, land & railway surveying etc, which are still in print. Oddly I cannot find any more records for him.

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