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The Great Fire of Wareham
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On a hot Sunday in July 1762 someone very carelessly threw out ashes onto a rubbish tip at the back of “The Bulls Head” Inn (on the site now occupied by Lloyds Bank in South Street) which became infamous as the seat of Wareham’s catastrophic fire.

The old medieval thatched buildings were well alight and, by 7 o’clock that evening, most of the town had been destroyed. After the fire, a successful appeal was launched to raise funds for the rebuilding, and after a year of debate an Act of Parliament was raised for the rebuilding of the town.

The Mayor of the day argued that the old timber buildings that once stood in the middle of North Street should not be reinstated and that the wide street would provide an adequate fire break in the event that a fire might happen again.

It was also agreed that all the new properties should have tiled roofs, should be properly insured and that their insurance company should provide a fire engine.

Even today, many of the houses from that period still bear the plaque outside the front door of the Sun Fire Assurance Company. 2012 is the 250th anniversary of the Great Fire.

Having been rebuilt in the Georgian style of the day, the town began to enjoy a period of prosperity. Some of the local merchants had secured lucrative contracts with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth to supply fruit and vegetables and other commodities. Clay was another material that was being successfully exploited and Joshia Wedgwood used Wareham clay in many of his products.
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Plaque outside Lloyds TSB, South Street
Plaque outside Lloyds TSB, South Street
King's Arms
The King's Arms, North Street marks the northern limit of the fire.
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