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Gazette charting massive fire to go under hammer.

Byline: Mike Lockley Staff Reporter

A RARE 17th-century gazette breaking news of the Great Fire of Warwick goes under the hammer in Birmingham on Friday.

The London Gazette's harrowing story of the September 5, 1694, inferno will be one of the star items at the Birmingham Book and Ephemera Fair. It is expected to fetch around PS50.

Historian Roger Knowles, organiser of the event at Edgbaston's Medical Institute, said: "The London Gazette was the only paper at the time and this is a very scarce item."

The fire, sparked by a boy carrying a torch through the High Street, destroyed 157 houses and badly damaged the Collegiate Church of St Mary.

The repair bill was PS60,000. The blaze was only halted by the stone walls of Lord Leycester Hotel, in Jury Street, after raging for six hours.

The disaster had important national ramifications, spawning the Fire Act.

The legislation regulated what materials housebuilders could use and the width of streets.

"By virtue of tempestuous winds flowing from the west," reported The Gazette, "within half-an-hour the town was in flames.

"Within a few hours, several whole streets were consumed."

Less dramatic, but vitally important to Birmingham, are Billesley Wesleyan Church Trust's minutes and a book of church leaders.

The weighty volumes stretch from 1927 to 1955 and will be on offer at the fair for PS180. Roger, aged 73, said: "These are very significant. The church wasn't built until 1928 and the minutes chronicle early meetings in a church hall.

"They also detail groups using the church.

"If they are not sold on the day they will be offered to Birmingham Reference Library." For those interested in local government, early 20th century volumes of The Guildsman, the official publication for city council officials, will also be up for grabs.

The book and ephemera fair runs from 11am to 5pm at the Harborne Road venue.

'"By virtue of tempestuous winds flowing from the west," within half-anhour the town was in flames. Within a few hours, several whole streets were consumed. THE LONDON GAZETTE


Roger Knowles, |who has organised the Book and Ephemera Fair in Edgbaston on Friday
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 7, 2014
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