The 'Jenkins' fire was a major blaze that arose as a result of a gas leak at the Grosvenor Works, a large manufacturing and timber works owned by Peter Jenkins on the 14 Jan 1893. During the course of moving pipework associated with the gas meter, matches were used by the Hastings & St Leonards Gas Company employees to check for leaks. The gasmen were hurried along to leave the premises so it could be locked up.
Shortly after 2 o'clock, two passers by noticed smoke issuing from the premises and gained entry in an attempt to prevent a conflagration. They found that piping behind the meter was missing with a jet of flame coming from the meter. They managed to turn the gas off, but by that time fire had taken hold in the ceiling of the room.
The fire brigades at Bourne Street, Middle Street, and Kings Road were mobilised and arrived quickly, with the Steam Engine arriving soon after. In spite of their efforts, by 5 o'clock, the southern and east wall had collapsed with a potential for fire to spread to an adjoining hay store. By removing a large number of bales, this was prevented and by 8 o'clock, the fire was under control with the No 3 fire section remaining on scene all night damping down the remains.
By the light of morning, the devastation to the works could be seen as being total - twisted girders were all that remained, although some machinery did survive, albeit water-damaged. Due to the loss of individual workmen's tools a subscription fund was started to help them replace the means of obtaining their livelyhood, total damages being estimated at some £7,000. Legal proceedings against the gas company were reported as being started during December of that year.
References & Notes
- Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 09 December 1893
- Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 21 January 1893