On Monday evening, at about seven o’clock, the people of Shipley were put into a state of great excitement by the ringing of the fire alarm.The fire proved to be at the premises of Mr Thomas Williams, worsted spinner, which are situated at the New Hirst, at the further end of Hirst Wood.
Mr Williams and four or five of the hands were working overtime and were just about to commence work after tea when a belt, attached to one of the machines, broke and knocked over a paraffin lamp which exploded.Paraffin lampThe mill was lighted by electricity but a small paraffin lamp was used to enable the workpeople to enter the room to turn on the light.The yarn in the warping mill was set alight by the explosion and speedily the whole room was in flames.Mr Williams telephoned for the Shipley Fire Brigade and in the meantime the hands tried to check
the flames with buckets of water but their efforts were of no avail.The mill, being hemmed in between the canal and the river is exceedingly difficult to get at with wheeled vehicles, the only road – and a bad road at that – being through the farmyard of Mr M Jowett and through the woods.The Shipley Fire Brigade had great difficulty in reaching the mill, the horses having to walk through the wood and the fire had got fairly hold of the mill before the brigade reached it.The roof fell in soon after the arrival of the brigade. The brigade soon made its present apparent and by 9.30 they had the fire well under hand.
In the meantime, Supt Wilks sent for the Bingley Fire Brigade and when they arrived they could not get near enough to the river owing to the steepness of the banks and they had to pull away and go to the canal at the Seven Arches some 200 yards away.Almost ruined buildingAt about ten o’clock the fire was nearly out and the Bingley Brigade took its departure. Soon after, the Shipley Brigade ceased to play upon the almost ruined building.The third storey, in which the fire began, and the top storey were entirely gutted and great damage was done by water to the two bottom storeys.The damage is estimated between £2,000 and £3,000 and though some of his customer’s yarns were insured, Mr Williams is a big loser by the unfortunate catastrophe.Shipley Times & Express 11 March 1899