Fire at Norton Mill – George Caldicott b1811

Norton Mill, Radnorshire

Son of miller, Thomas Caldicott and Mary Steele, George Caldicott, born about 1808 in Eardisland, Herefordshire, had spent much of his working life as a miller based at Norton Mill, Radnorshire.

But in 1851 disaster struck when Norton Mill caught fire. It was first reported in the Hereford Journal on Wednesday 18 June 1851 in Page 3.

Image © Midland News Association. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.


DESTRUCTIVE FIRE. – At an early hour on the morning of Wednesday last, a messenger arrived with intelligence that a fire had broken out at Norton, a village distant about two miles from this town, on the Knighton road, and requesting that the engines might be immediately forwarded. On proceeding to the spot it was discovered that the Norton Mills were in flames, and a great number of the villagers and other persons were assembled, and doing their utmost to save from destruction as much of the property as possible, The house and mills are attached, having a thatched roof, and the whole being of very combustible materials, were soon a heap of ruins; the engines, as usual, not being of the slightest use. The property belongs to Richard Price, Esq., and are in the occupation of Mr. Geo. Caldicott, miller, an industrious and honest man, who has sustained a serious loss in furniture, wheat, flour, &c., and having a wife and family it is hoped that the benevolent will contribute towards replacing what he has thus unfortunately been deprived of, as little was saved.

At the time of the fire, George was married to Sarah Williams and the couple had 7 children, 3 had left home and the remaining 4 were aged between 12 years and 6 months. As reported, the fire left the family suffering from great material loss and reliant on benevolence to help them through the crisis.

The Hereford Times went to press 10 days later reporting some inaccuracies to the original story. This report went to print on Saturday 28 June 1851 and the article appeared on page 7.


FIRE AT NORTON MILL. – The hurried statement which we lately gave as to the fire at this place contained several inaccuracies which did not originate with us. The mill is the property of Richard Price, Esq. The fire totally destroyed the building, but we are happy to say that the greater portion of the corn and of the furniture were saved. The cause of this unfortunate casualty is at present unknown. We regret to hear that neither landlord nor tenant was insure. – Another correspondent writes, – It appears that the mill-house is an old building with a thatched roof; and it is supposed that the fire originated from a crevice in the wall of the oven which communicated with a place where the inmates kept the fuel for the purpose of baking – gorse, we presume. A quantity of wood was also stored there. Although there was an abundance of water at hand, and, after the lapse of a short time, the engine arrived from Presteign, in spite of every effort, the fire soon reduced the building to little better than a heap of ruins. Surely this circumstance will produce its effect, not only upon the landlords to show them the utility of at once freeing themselves from risk of loss, by insuring their property, but also upon the occupiers of farms, &c.

It would seem that the loss suffered by George and his family was not as extensive as had originally been reported although the newspaper is keen to offer cautionary advice about insurance as protection against circumstances such as these.

The 1861 Census shows George and his family still living and working at Norton Mill and happily the couple had had another son, Thomas.

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