A gas explosion shakes John Houlding’s old brewery


February 13, 1923
A severe gas explosion occurred in Tynemouth-street in the Everton district of Liverpool, late on Tuesday afternoon. Three houses were wrecked, two of them being blown to dust, while the third was partly destroyed. The explosion was terrific, the concussion causing damage over a wide area. Rescue parties were quickly on the scene, and extricated, after an hour’s labour, James Ashcroft, who was held captive by a beam. He was able, however, to speak. Mrs. Ormesby, living next door to Ashcroft, who was also rescued, had her child blown out of her arms. Rescue work was continued after dark by the aid of flares. It is not yet known whether any lives have been lost.

A remarkable story of the explosion was told to a Press representative by Mr. John Murphy, a brewer at Houlding’s Brewery, which stands immediately opposite the house where the explosion occurred. “I had heard complaints early in the morning about an escape of gas at the houses opposite,” he said, and at 3 o’clock in the afternoon Mrs. Charlotte Ashcroft came across to me and asked if a telephone message could be sent to the gas company as the escape of gas was terrible. She was in an almost fainting condition. I advised her to let the police know. About ten past four I was up on the second floor looking out across towards the houses when there was a terrible explosion. I was conscious of a great cloud of dust blotting out everything, and I also knew that the brewery was rocking as though in a gale. All this lasted a few seconds, and then as I recovered from the shock I was horrified to see through the disappearing cloud a big gap in the houses opposite. Two of them were missing, and their roofs must have gone up in the air and crashed on to the roof of the garage alongside. Terrified people began to stream out of the neighbouring houses, and run away in different directions. I rushed into the road. A woman was lying under the debris of No. 39. Some men came to my assistance, and we got the woman out, and carried her into the brewery, and attended to her until the ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital. A few minutes later the ambulance was on the scene, followed shortly afterwards by the fire brigade, and the work of rescue started in earnest.

Mrs. Mary Ormesby, of 35, Tynemouth-street, who is now in the Royal Infirmary, said: “I first noticed a smell of gas in the forenoon. Later in the afternoon I was cooking some pancaces for tea, and just after four o’clock I went to the door to call my daughter, whom I had sent out to play in the street to get away from the gas. That saved my life. I had just got to the door, carrying my baby, when the house literally fell on me. I was pinned down, and then some men came and got me out.
(Gloucester Citizen: February 14, 1923)

Memories of John Houlding’s old brewery
Houldings beacon ale

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