Local History Society

 The Mill: 1829 Fire (Reading Mercury)


There are three known newspaper articles on fires at Arborfield Mill. This is from the 'Reading Mercury' on 29th June 1829, and puts a different slant on the story, concentrating on the plight of the Pither family, and quoting a different date.

Calamity by fire.

On the night of the 18th of June inst the Corn-Mill in the occupation of Mr. John Pither, at Arborfield, on the Loddon, was burnt to the ground. The fire broke out in an adjoining paper-mill, and had reached to such a height before it was discovered, that all attempts to master the flames proved ineffectual; so that the mill-buildings, with their valuable contents, were utterly destroyed by the hurried efforts made to preserve it; and all the little property of this unhappy family, the necessaries which support, and the comforts which sweeten life, spoilt, wasted, or plundered in the dreadful confusion of the night.

The loss is estimated at £500 - their all! Nothing was insured, so that the ruin is total! And to this destruction must be added the loss of time and of custom, until the mill be rebuilt, and the means of labor, the power of supporting their six young children, restored to the worthy industrious miller and his admirable wife. Under these circumstances, Mr. Pither’s friends are induced to appeal to the charity of the neighbourhood for such assistance, as each, according to his several means, may be enabled to afford.

They are emboldened to this measure by the grievous nature of the calamity, and still more by the exemplary character of the sufferers; who, upright, frugal, and kind, have long been noted for examples - of cheerful industry, and humble benevolence. It is earnestly hoped, that the advantage of such a character may be proved to them in this hour of trial; and that they, who to the utmost of their small power relieved the distressed, and comforted the afflicted, may find a fitting reward in the timely donations and the generous sympathy of their neighbours and of the public.

References as to the facts and the case and the characters of the parties, may be made to the Clergyman of the parish, the Rev. H. Hodgkinson, and to John and Charles Simonds, esqrs, the former of Newlands, the latter of Sindlesham, in the immediate neighbourhood of the scene of the calamity.

Subscriptions will be thankfully received at the Bank of the above John and Chas. Simonds, esqrs, at Reading; and Messrs. Harris and Co., Reading.”

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