Newells Preparatory School

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The 1968 Fire

Posted by newells on August 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM


I've just been looking at Ad Perpetuam Memorium regarding the tragic death of Alex Parker.

My name is John Harrison and I thought,  you would be interested to learn that I have a very clear memory of that dreadful night in January 1968.

At that time, I was seven years old - living with my parents and grandparents in a very grand house called Cisswood (virtually opposite Newells school).

I was woken up by my parents who told me they were going to see if they could help out in any way by offering our home as a sanctuary for all the boys and staff. Of course, I had to stay in bed - but I distinctly recall blue lights flashing around my bedroom ( I thought this was rather exciting !)

In the event, it would seem that alternative accommodation arrangements had been made - and my family's help wasn't required.

The final outcome had a dramatic effect on my childhood. I'd grown up at Cisswood - and even at the tender age of seven - had formed a very strong attachment to the place. However - my mother was horrified that the ashes from the blaze had blown across our grounds and (because of the tragic death)refused to live in the house any more. It was subsequently sold in April 1968.

Since then it has become a rather tawdry Hotel / Spa. To this day - I resolutely refuse to set foot inside it - so tarnished has my memory become.

I have never forgotten the tragedy of that night - and I'm sure that those who were close to poor Alex will have even more poignant memories than my own.


John S Harrison.


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1 Comment

Reply Chris Matthews
1:15 PM on March 18, 2019 
Remiss of me not to comment earlier on this "shared" memory of the fire. Very poignant and makes it so vivid all those years ago. Thank you John. I'm sure all that were there share these sentiments.