"A death trap gone"

The Marlborough Times and Wilts and Berks County Paper - Saturday, October 11, 1902

Old Town Hall AmendedThe demolition of the old building commenced exactly two years ago, and it became once apparent when the structure had been stripped of its outer case of lath and plaster, that the movement had not taken shape a day too soon.  For a more complete death-trap in the form of a public building it would be difficult to conceive.  With only one means of ingress and egress, and that in a corner of the hall, by way of a wooden staircase; with no possible exit through the windows; and the whole of the "walls" composed merely of wooden studs, with lath and plaster on both sides, the escape of a crowded audience would have been impossible in the event of panic.  How near we have been in recent times to a terrible catastrophe became evident on the dismantling of the cell room, where it was found that a stove pipe carried up behind the match-boarding had actually ignited and charred the internal face of the woodwork over a considerable area without the fire having been detected; the presumption being that as the space was very confined the fire died out for want of sufficient air to feed it.  It occurred immediately at the foot of the staircase which formed the only exit to the building, and, had it spread during the time the hall was being used, nothing could have averted a terrible sacrifice of life under circumstances too frightful to contemplate.

Source: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

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