View previous topic | View next topic

"G" gaffes, goof ups and other gormless gaucheries

Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

424051.  Fri Oct 17, 2008 2:12 am Reply with quote

The Gillingham Fire "Demonstration".

On July 11 1929 in the town of Gillingham, Kent, nine boys aged 10 to 14 and six firemen (attired as if in a wedding party) took part in a fire fighting demonstration. This had been "performed" every year (at least for some time) as part of the Gillingham Park fete. The plan was to light a "smoke" fire on the first floor, rescue the "wedding party", then set the rest of the empty house alight to demonstrate the use of the fire hoses.

Unfortunately, the "real" fire was lit first. The spectators, who assumed that the bodies they saw burning were actually dummies, watched cheering and clapping, whilst the firemen were desparately trying to put out what they knew to the be the real fire.

All 15 people in the house taking part in the demonstration died.

(source: BOL 2004 edition).

424349.  Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:54 am Reply with quote

Ooh, thanks reddy!

Gillingham forms part of the same conurbation as does Rochester where I live - it's about three miles away. But I'd not heard about that episode before - I shall investigate!

424567.  Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:35 pm Reply with quote

Hmm - I wonder if the Kennedy Assassination was actually a planned training exercise that misfired?

424692.  Sat Oct 18, 2008 5:59 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Ooh, thanks reddy!

Gillingham forms part of the same conurbation as does Rochester where I live - it's about three miles away. But I'd not heard about that episode before - I shall investigate!

No worries Suze! BOL is a mine of information. It's the most well thumbed book in my house (soon, I'm sure, to be replaced by the BOGI!)

Here is a brief link in the Medway Council's site that mentions it.

I found this little tidbit very interesting. It's a parliamentary hansard on 22 July 1929 entry regarding the Gillingham disaster.

Hansard entry regarding Gillingham disaster

I found the wording, some 80 years ago, to be quite startling!!!

675359.  Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:02 pm Reply with quote

Information on the Gillingham Park Fete Tragedy can be found:


and the most details can be found on the facebook group
Gillingham Park Fete Tragedy

My cousin was Eric Edward Cheesman who was only 12 years of age when killed in this accident. Its disturbing that not much informaiton to this date could be found regrading details.

Last edited by Lori.o on Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:33 am; edited 2 times in total

675396.  Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:01 pm Reply with quote

I forgot to mention this web site which gives an excellent account of what happened (and the only one available to date on the internet which does!!)

675397.  Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:07 pm Reply with quote

The Sidney Morning Herold July 15, 1929

675412.  Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:38 pm Reply with quote

Welcome Lori.o and thanks for the interesting contribution :-)

675648.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:46 am Reply with quote

Thanks you Jenny. This incident seems to be almost forgotten in the very community where it happened. It would be a shame to allow that to happen.

675701.  Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:53 am Reply with quote

Goodness! I didn't realise it had been well over a year since I posted that information.

Thank you Lori for providing further information on this tragic event. Indeed, it is a shame that it has largely been forgotten in the very community that it occurred in, particularly so for yourself, since it involved a family member.

Welcome to the QI forum also!

730142.  Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:40 am Reply with quote

I have created a web site where all the information I have gathered regrading this tragedy may be viewed:

Please see the homepage for details of a petition we currently have asking that the graves of these people be fixed up and a memorial placed in their memory. Currently we have had 448 signatures.

Also you can view the Kent On Sunday newspaper for a full page article on this tragedy published July 11 2010 - page 24

733137.  Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:46 am Reply with quote

New newspaper article released by a Canadian newspaper:

Canadian leads effort to remember U.K. fire victims

Read more:

Ion Zone
752160.  Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:53 pm Reply with quote

If it wasn't completely and utterly tasteless I'd mention a certain American hostage-rescue attempt recently....

It would be nice if they stopped killing our citizens.

755505.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:44 am Reply with quote

I visited the Woodlands Cemetery earlier this month and am very pleased to report that Medway Council has begun restoration of these graves. I also received an e-mail from the council and they continue to work towards a memorial in the park where this happened. I was able to do 2 interviews with BBC, one live on their morning radio show and a longer interview recorded by the graves which aired later on that day. We also had 2 newspapers which covered this trip to the cemetery. Photos of the before and now shots of the graves as well as photos taken in the Woodlands Cemetery may be seen at this link:

Thanks for everyones support, together we are making a difference.

758188.  Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:15 am Reply with quote

Medway Councils statement on the repair of the graves - Published in the Medway Messenger.


Cllr Rodney Chambers Leader of the Medway Council said: "The Gillingham Park fire was such a significant and awful event, and claimed the lives of so many people, that we felt it was right to repair these graves.

The council is not able to look after the upkeep of all the graves in Medway as it cannot afford to. This is the responsibility of relatives.

However, as we did with the graves of the marine cadets on the 50th anniversary of that tragedy in 2002, we have repaired the graves of those from the Gillingham fire disaster as a mark of respect for all the victims, which included many young people.

We have had the graves refurbished, which means that any chippings in the stone work were removed, slabs were taken out and replaced, kerbs and corner posts were properly set and the graves correctly leveled.

The stonework was also professionally cleaned and polished and brought back to a good condition.

In addition to this, the vases and other memorials placed on the graves were treated in the same way.

The graves now look neat and tidy and they should remain in good condition for many years to come."


Page 1 of 2
Goto page 1, 2  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours

Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group