THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Damage to Portadown national school could have been prevented, writes correspondent

From the News Letter, April 29, 1912

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 30th April 2021, 11:52 am
Bridge Street showing First Presbyterian Church, Portadown, Co Armagh. NLI Ref: EAS_0093. Picture: National Library of Ireland

On this day in 1912 the News Letter reported that shortly before 1am on April 27, 1912, Mr J A Davidson, the principal of Portadown National School, had been awoken by the sound of “crackling timbers”.

Alarmed by the sound he leapt from his bed to find that the school, which adjoined his home, was on fire.

The school, which was located at the junction of Portmore Street and Edward Street in the town, had been built three years previously and opened by Sir William Whitla.

Mr Davidson had “hurriedly” dressed and rushed into the street to raise the alarm.

The News Letter’s correspondent from Portadown noted that more of the school could have been saved had there not been “some delay” in “ringing the bell” at the town’s fire station.

Captain Crookes of the town’s fire brigade later said that the reason for the delay was due to the fact that the electric bells which had been installed in the residence of the other fire fighters had not been in working order.

In yet another delay to the efforts to fight the fire it was found that the water from the reservoir had been turned off and a message had to be sent to increase the pressure of the water to help fight the blaze.

The News Letter’s correspondent reported: “Some of the firemen expressed the opinion that had they been on the scene immediately after the outbreak was discovered they could have contained it to the room where it [the fire] originated, and this is a view shared by many of the spectators.”