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Also known as Great Ridge Farm, Ridge farm was owned by the Briscoe sisters; Eliza, (illegible text) & (illegible text) in the 1880s and occupied by Mr Spencer Sargent (1802-1900)
Early in 1880, it was the location of a fatal fire in which one man, four cows and a goat perished. The alarm was raised at 1am on the 4th of January 1880 by Mr Sargent's son, who was woken by the sound of the fire crackling away in one of the buildings abutting Old London Road (now The Ridge). At the time, this building and its neighbours (which were arranged to form of a square) were housing between fifty and sixty dairy cows, three horses and waggons and sundry farm equipment. The house in which the elderly Mr Sargent was roused by his son from was approximately 40 Metres away from the affected buildings. A mammoth effort was exerted to extract the livestock from the burning buildings, whilst awaiting the arrival of the Fire Brigade who a messenger had been sent to summon. The horses were safely removed prior to the arrival of Number 2 fire section, who were soon joined by Number 1 fire section. After approximately three hours, the blaze could be considered extinguished and the sad discovery was made of the dead cattle who were still chained in their shed. The sheds themselves were not much more than thirty years old, having been constructed of wood to replace similar sheds lost in a fire 30 years prior. The cause of the fire was presumed to be a labourer named Burt, who had been permitted to sleep in the sheds by Mr Sargent. Burt was known to smoke tobacco and at the initial stages of the fire-fighting efforts was found to be filthy and wearing threads - the remains of his clothing presumably which had caught fire and he jumping into the adjacent pond to extinguish himself. On account of his injuries he was sent to the General Infirmary for treatment, however he succumbed to his injuries two days later. When questioned by the police, Burt stated that he had been asleep in the sheds, awoke on realising he was on fire and leapt into the pond to put the flames out. He denied having either a pipe or matches in his possession. At the inquest into the death of Burt, Mr Sargent's son, Henry, stated that he retired for the night at about 10pm and a glance around the farmyard revealed all to be in order. They were in the habit of permitting a labourer to sleep in the sheds to better care for the animals. A milkman employed by the farm told the inquest that no naked lights were permitted within the barns due to the inflammable nature of the hay stored there. No-one had seen Burt between the farm closing up for the evening and the discovery of the fire. After hearing evidence from the doctor, the inquest jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death in the case of Burt.
Double Faced Calf
Passing of Mr Sargent snr
After suffering what was described as a 'paralytic seizure' whilst out walking, Mr Spencer Sargent passed away four days later on the 20th of November 1900 at the age of 98 years old. Mr Sargent's wife passed 20 years prior to this, leaving his only child, Henry.