Fire at the Dukeries Hotel, Edwinstowe, 1929

By John Farjeon

Photo:Happy times: Announcement of the opening of the Dukeries Hotel, 1897

Happy times: Announcement of the opening of the Dukeries Hotel, 1897

Mansfield Advertiser, 23rd July 1897 p5c1

History of the Hotel

In the book "Edwinstowe Past & Present" compiled by the Edwinstowe Historical Society in 1987 (p.39) it is recorded that The Mansfield Brewery purchased the site of the hotel (just across from the railway station) in 1895 for £543.  The licence was granted at the Retford Quarter sessions on 21st October 1896, and the hotel was built in 1897.  M.J. Jackson, meanwhile, in his book "Edwinstowe: the Story of a Forest Village" (p32) says "The Dukeries Hotel, vast in comparison with other village hostelries, was built primarily to cater for those coming into the village by train and during the summer months the number of visitors was considerable".

The Mansfield Advertiser (18th September 1896, p3 c3) recorded that, "With a view to providing further Hotal accommodation for the many thousands of visitors to 'The Dukeries', the Mansfield Brewery Company are (sic) erecting at Edwinstowe, on a site on the opposite side of the main road... to the Derbyshire and East Coast Railway Co.'s new line, a magnificent family hotel and refreshment rooms combined".

It said the hotel would cost about £7,000 to build, and that the architect was Mr. R. Frank Vallance F.R.I.B.A. of Mansfield.

The paper continued with a detailed description of the exterior and interior:-

Outside : "A picturesque style of architecture has been adopted as best suited to harmonize with famous woodland scenery.  The lower part of the structure will be faced with Leicestershire red sand faced pressed bricks, relieved by white Mansfield  stone dressings, and the upper portion will be constructed half timber with cement panels.

The principal entrance to the hotel is through an open timbered porch, above which is an  overhanging gable in timber.  The roofs will be covered with red Staffordshire tiles and ornamental ridging of a suitable character".

Inside : "[It will contain] on the ground floor, coffee room,, private sitting rooms, billiard and smoke rooms, sitting room and office for the manager, refreshment room, bar parlour, pavillion 51 feet by 24 feet, surrounded by a verandah, suitable for large assemblies and dancing, cloak rooms, lavatories, w.c.'s, kitchens, scullery, larders, and other necessary offices.

The first floor contains further sitting room accommodation, large drawing room,, numerous spacious bed-rooms, bathroom, lavatories, etc. etc.

The second floor comprises additional bedroom accommodation, stores and tank room for storing water for domestic purposes and fir use in case of fire.

Spacious beer and wine cellars are also provided under the central portion of the building.

Behind the main buildings commodious stables and coach-houses are arranged, and the remaining part of the site will be laid out as  pleasure grounds, with tennis courts etc".

Looking at Trade directories, in 1912 and 1916 the manageress was Miss Charlotte Fox.  The next available directory - 1922 - then lists Edgar Handley Hind as proprietor.  Hind appears again in the 1925 directory, but by 1928 has been superseded by H. Snaith. 

Then, in early 1929, disaster stuck


On 22nd February 1929 The Mansfield Advertiser reported (p.6) "Destructive Fire at Edwinstowe: Well-known hotel practically destroyed: £12,000 - £15,000 damage".  The article went on:-

"One of the most destructive fires in the Mansfield area in recent years oaacured in the early hours of Tuesday morning, involving the well known Dukeries Hotel at Edwinstowe.  More than one-half of the building was destroyed, and the portion remaining has suffered considerable damage from fire and water.  The total damage is placed at Between £12,000 and £15,000.

"The story of the discovery of the fire was related to a representative of the 'Advertiser' by Mr E.H. Edwards, who occupies a shop immediately opposite the hotel.  About 3.30 on Tuesday morning, stated Mr Edwards, his Alsatian dog jumped on to his bed and aroused him, and as the animal continued restless he got up and came into the shop, and on looking through the window saw the pavilion adjoining the hotel a mass of flames and smoke and flames were also pouring out of the bedrooms at that end of the hotel.

"He then went to arouse the inmates of the hotel, all of whom were sleeping at the opposite end from the fire, but whose rooms were beginning to fill with smoke.  Mr Edwards summoned the Mansfield Fire Brigade by telephone, and also Mr P. Morley, captain of the Edwinstowe Brigade, but the latter were handicapped from getting to work on the blazing building owing to the hydrants being frozen up.

"The call was received at the Mansfield Fire Station at 4.15, and the brigade, under Captain A. Colbert, with two engines, arrived on the scene at 4.47.  'It looked an almost hopeless rask," said Capt. Colbert, 'when we arrived'.

"Some delay was experienced before the engines could be got to work owing to the stream from which water was pumped having to be cleared to immerse the suction. 

"In order to cope with the fire the Mansfield brigade had to couple up forty lengths of hose, and the large engine was pumping water from the stream nearly a quarter of a mile away from the scene of the fire, for seven hours at the rate of 400 gallons per minute and giving a pressure from the jets of 120lbs. to the square inch.

"After nearly five hours' work the firemen began to get the mastery of the flames, but it was not until four o'clock on Tuesday afternoon that the mansfield Brigade was able to leave Edwinstowe.

"At mid-day spurts of flame were still to be seen shooting out from various parts of the ruins.  The fire broke out again during Tuesday night among the rafters in that portion of the building which had been saved.  The local brigade, fortunately, were still on duty and were able to extinguish the outbreak.

"The Dukeries Hotel is the property of the Mansfield Brewery Company, and was occupied by Mr and Mrs H Snaith, a daughter and son-in-law of Mr F. Oliver of the Dial Hotel, Mansfield.  During Tueasday morning Mr Snaith was overcome by the shock of the affair and was removed to Mansfield.

"The origin of the fire is unknown, but it is believed to have originated in the neighbourhood of the vaults, and reaching the pavilion adjoining quickly destroyed the building...."

 After that, the next directory I could find (1932) lists Cameron Rice as proprietor.

Photo:Damage caused by the fire, 1929

Damage caused by the fire, 1929

This page was added by John Farjeon on 19/02/2015.

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