The village of Burton Bradstock lies 5 miles east of Bridport, Dorset, England. Situated on the Chesil Beach, the village nestles around the church of St. Mary the Virgin and 16th and 17th century thatched cottages. A tranquil scene today, but in 1843 the village suffered one of the worst fires that had occurred in this part of the country.
In the late evening of July 4, 1843 a fire, believed to have started at the Anchor Inn in the High-street, burnt for much of the night, destroying 22 houses, along with other buildings and property. When discovered the back of the Inn was alight but soon burnt out.
By now Mr. Phillips, the landlord of the Anchor and most of the inhabitants were awake and helping to fight the fire, but having no fire engine their efforts were of little avail, and by midnight the flames had spread to a row of neighbouring cottages occupied by farm labourers and their families, and seemed likely to spread to the rest of the village.
News of fire reached Bridport at about 1 o’clock and the fire engines were dispatched to assist, and arrived at Burton about half past two, by which time 22 houses had been destroyed and the flames were progressing rapidly. Once the engines were brought into operation they succeeded in preventing the spread of the fire, and by 4 o’clock it was almost out.
It is understood that 28 families lost their homes, and not being insured were left pennyless and without a roof over their heads. Fortunately no lives lost.
The exact cause of the fire has never been determined, but there were rumours circulating that it may have been arson. Insurance companies have sustained losses in the region of £1,300, on the property of Lord Rivers.