Tuesday, 3rd February, 1857
Destruction of Wallasey Church By Fire
On Sunday morning the ancient church of Wallasey, so well known to all who make occasional excursions to the Cheshire side of the Mersey, was totally destroyed by fire. The particulars of the catastrophe, so far as we have been able to learn, are as follows :- About two o'clock on Sunday morning an inhabitant of the village, on looking through his bed room window, discovered smoke and flames issuing from the church, and immediately communicated the fact to the rector, the Rev. F. Haggit. The rector and several of the parishioners proceeded at once to the spot, and found that their worst fears were realised. The flames were breaking through the windows, and the fire presented an alarming aspect. A messenger was dispatched for the Birkenhead fire brigade and engine, that being the nearest place from which any effectual assistance could be had in such an emergency. In the meantime the flames spread rapidly, the persons present being unable to do anything towards arresting their progress. From every window the fire burst forth, and burnt with such brilliancy as to be visible from a distance of several miles. In a very short time the roof of the body of the edifice fell in, and then it became evident that the building must very soon be utterly destroyed. The fire brigade from Birkenhead arrived about half-past three, but even then any efforts they could make were inoperative from the want of a supply of water. After some time water was obtained and the engine got into play, but it was then too late to make any effectual efforts towards arresting the progress of the devouring element. The whole of the body of the church was completely gutted, and presented nothing but a heap of smouldering ruins. The tower remains standing, this portion if the edifice having to extent been preserved by the effects of the fire brigade. The register books and some documents of value connected with the church were the only things saved from the conflagration. The handsome organ, which was erected a few years ago, and which cost three hundred guineas, was totally consumed, also a handsome font, presented to the church by Mr. Chambers. The church contained a set of six bells, which fell with a tremendous crash during the progress of the fire. Only two of the bells remain entire, the remainder being broken to pieces. The church underwent very extensive improvements a year or two ago, and a large sum of money was expended. As for the origin of the fire, little doubt is entertained. The fires connected with the flues for heating the building were lighted as usual about eight on Saturday evening. This was the ordinary practice on that the church might be sufficiently warmed when the congregation assembled the following morning for divine service. It is supposed that some of the flues, becoming overheated, had ignited the flooring, and thus led to the results which followed. The loss is covered by insurance un the Sun Fire Office to the extent of £2000, but this, it is considered, will fall far short of the actual damage which has resulted from the conflagration. The church was one of the oldest ecclesiastical edifices in the neighbourhood. The tower bears the date of 1530, although the church itself was re-built about 100 years ago. During the day the ruins were visited by a large number of gentry on the Cheshire side, among whom we noticed Mr. D. Neilson, Mr. J.C. Ewart, M.P., Mr. Commissioner Parry, Mr. T.S. Raffles, etc., etc.