Submitted by Editor on Thu, 13/07/2017 - 13:45


On this day in 1861, the Edinburgh Evening Courant carried the following report: 

Shortly before three o’clock yesterday afternoon, fire broke out in a top-flat front room of the tenement No. 72 Broughton Street, immediately contiguous to London Street. Several engines were speedily on the spot, but the flames had made serious progress before their arrival. The blinds of the windows became ignited, and the flames set fire to the wooden framework, whence they spread to the roof, the rafters and lathing of which were soon in a blaze. After burning fiercely for some time, the roof fell in with a loud crash. As fears were thus apprehended for the safety of the other flats, the firemen directed their efforts to preventing the further spread of the conflagration. In this they succeeded, and a copious stream of water being obtained from the adjacent fire-plugs, the flames were subdued in the course of an hour or so. Nearly all the furniture and other household articles were destroyed, and the half-flat was completely gutted. Although the adjoining house on the same flat and those below were untouched by the flames, they sustained some slight damage from the water, and in their alarm the occupants removed many articles to a place of security. The fire is supposed to have originated from the igniting of a foul vent.

The Post Office Directory for 1861–62 reveals that at this time No.72 was occupied by a Mrs Hume, who ran lodgings, the Misses Macpherson and Sadler, and one Conrad Laubach, a music teacher. He was part of a large family of musicians and photographers resident in Edinburgh after the arrival here in 1854 of Heinrich Conrad Laubach (the son of a Nassau farmer). At the time of the Broughton Street blaze, a Philip Laubach, another music teacher, lived round the corner from Conrad at 7 Broughton Place, and many other family members were local residents over the years. They are described in wonderful detail on Peter Stubbs's edinphoto website here.

[The image above appears on The Victorian Web, along with an outline of Edinburgh's early fire service.]