PARTIAL DESTRUCTION OF LOWESTOFT PIER BY FIRE
On Monday night a serious fire, causing the partial destruction of the South Pier, Lowestoft, was discovered to be raging at the reading-room at the end of the structure. The flames spread with wonderful rapidity along the Extension Pier, and, it being about 11 o’clock in the evening, large numbers of spectators congregated at every available point to watch the ravages of the devouring element, which, about 10 minutes after the first alarm, caused the roof of the reading-room to fall in with a loud crash. The Great Eastern Railway Company’s engine was immediately sent from the Railway Station, and the Volunteer Fire Brigade, under Captain T. E. Thirtle, Superintendent Rayment, and Inspector Wright, were rendering good service with their engines about half an hour after. Some idea of the grandeur of the spectacle can be gained from the fact that the reading-room, band-stand, and about 200 feet of the Pier were alight at the same time, the glare being so intense that several persons were attracted to the spot from Beccles. In a short time it was deemed necessary to endeavour to sever the connections of the Pier on both sides, and, though the work seemed insurmountable at first, it was accomplished by the ripping up of planks and the use of axes and saws. By four o’clock all danger was at an end, but the flames blazed until eight in the morning. It was mainly owing to the unceasing exertions of Capt. Massingham, harbourmaster; Mr. J. W. Smith, stationmaster: Mr. Radley, the Company’s resident engineer; Mr. Cracknell; Mr. Moore, deputy-harbourmaster, and others, that the conflagration was so speedily arrested and did not assume even more serious proportions. The estimated damage is £20,000, but the cause of the outbreak is, and will be, it is feared, a secret. In addition to the damage above described, a newly. erected stand for the sale of fancy articles and cigars, belonging to Mr. A. Stebbings, was destroyed, the owner being uninsured. A cordon of police under Supt. Gobbett, Inspector Booty, and Sergt. Bexley, rendered valuable assistance in keeping back the crowds; while a lad named Arthur Whyard, of the Suffolk Hotel, deserves credit for his action in setting adrift the yacht Mars, belonging to Mr. J. J. Colman, M.P., which was moored in dangerous proximity to the burning mass. A large number of men are employed in the work of restoration, and it is hoped that in a few days communication between the east and west ends of the pier will he again enjoyed. In consequence of the comparatively inefficient means at present existing for extinguishing fires, it is intended, we learn, that the desirability of purchasing a steam fire-engine will be mooted at the next meeting of the Improvement Commissioners.