Smoke could be seen for miles after fire engulfs 105-year-old hut in Warwick park

Warwick has lost a piece of its history after a hut that was more than 100 years old was destroyed by a major fire.

Friday, 11th May 2018, 10:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:11 am
The aftermath of the fire at the rangers hut in St Nicholas Park in Warwick. Photo by Geoff Ousbey.

Last Saturday (May 5) firefighters were called out at around 3am to a fire at the rangers’ hut in St Nicholas Park. The rangers’ hut was constructed in 1913 and the fire completely destroyed the building, which was used by the Warwick District Council rangers.

The loss of the building, which held many memories for residents, has saddened the community.

Two crews from Leamington Fire Station battled the fire and were on the scene until around 6am. Fire crews also returned later in the day to inspect the scene. The official cause of the fire is currently unknown.

The fire at the ranger hut in St Nicholas Park in Warwick. Photo by Nicholas Goode.

Nicholas Goode, who lives in St Nicholas Church Street, was an eyewitness and said losing the building is ‘like part of history has been erased’.

Recalling the fire he said: “It was around 3am when I was woken up by what I thought sounded like fireworks going off. It didn’t stop and the noise seemed to be getting louder. I made my way onto the street, I could smell burning and hear loud crackling. I realised the noise was that loud that it was echoing across the streets.

“I looked up and I could see smoke and red ash bellowing high up into the sky. I walked through the churchyard into the car park opposite the park, where there were two fire engines.

“I could clearly see the fire and the flames were leaping high up into the sky – higher than the house adjacent to the hut.

The aftermath of the fire at the Ranger hut in St Nicholas Park in Warwick. Photo by Geoff Ousbey. 9sfV45LJZCrHXhvB2BEn

“It looked like a volcano erupting – red ash was raining down all over park.

“I moved to the crazy golf course opposite the hut and there was a small group of about 20 people next to me and people were hanging out their windows watching.

“I stood and watched as the hut burnt down to the ground. I felt so sad because I have many happy memories of sitting on the bench at the hut going back to when I was a kid to more recently when I sat with my partner and my dog when it was snowing.

“It is like part of history has been erased.

“In the afternoon me and my friend walked back over to the park to look at the remains of the fire and it was just a heap of smouldering ash and twisted up metal.

“There was lots of people gathered around looking at the burnt out remains and reminiscing over their happy memories and history of the building.

“It will be sad not to see the lovely hut and it’s a great loss to the park and community but hopefully a replacement or something similar can be rebuilt in its place.”

Linda Bromley, on behalf of the Friends of St Nicholas Park said: “The Friends of St Nicholas Park are saddened that we have lost part of the park’s heritage. We are fortunate that some of the historic buildings still remain and it is so important to preserve them for all of us to enjoy.”

Councillor Moira-Ann Grainger, portfolio holder for neighbourhood services at Warwick District Council, said: “The Ranger Hut was used on a daily basis as a base for our rangers who patrol the park and car parks in Warwick. Our priority over the bank holiday weekend was to make the area safe for park users and neighbouring properties.

“We are extremely disappointed that such an old building has been destroyed by fire, we are awaiting the results of the fire investigation before work begins to clear the site.

“No decision has been made at this stage about whether the hut will be replaced.”