The following is an extract from "An old Bulmer Boy" by kind permission of Peter Rowe.
Peter Rowe was overjoyed when, in late July 1995, we had a yellow wagtail regularly visiting our lawn, catching great beak full of flies, before flying off to disappear somewhere in the middle of Ashley Cooper’s wheat field about 400 yards off. This was the only time I have ever seen one of these far from common little birds in Bulmer. They are ground nesters and it was obvious that it was feeding young in the nest, somewhere in the field. Having calculated roughly when the young birds should leave the nest, I contacted Ashley, and asked him if he could delay combining the field for a short while. which he very kindly agreed.
However, on Sunday 6th August, there was calamitous happening on the back field, the Auberies Farm combine caught fire! The fire rapidly spread to the straw and the standing wheat and jumped the hedge into Ashley’s unharvested wheat. We were fearful for our own homes, as it also spread right up to the edge of our tinder dry gardens.
Ashley and his father quickly ploughed fire breaks across their field, but the fire soon reached the Goldingham drive and several of the big poplar trees were engulfed in flames.
Another fire engine arrives, while Wendy takes the hose as I dash for the camera!
A procession of fire engines soon arrived. They, of course, headed to where the burning combine was, but the hedge stopped them from getting to where they were needed in the next field. We tried stopping the fire engines as they arrived, to direct them where to go, but none of them paid any heed, each one driving round the field and then back out before following our directions and I believe there were eight of them. The ferocity of the flames was intense with clouds of very black smoke rising above the burning crop.
I was fearful for the thatched cottages at Lower Houses, so I drove down there and went into Pat and Dave Whillock’s garden, who were on holiday. Their neighbour Brian Parry was watering their front garden, blissfully unaware of what was going on just over the brow of the
hill. The field behind the cottage had been harvested and part cultivated, except for a little corner just behind the cottage where unbelievably the straw was blazing away, obviously set alight by an airborne ember and perilously close to the cottage thatch. Wanting something Io beat the flames out with, we tore several branches from a beautiful flowering lavatera. These served admirably as fire brooms and we soon extinguished this little fire, but it could have been a close call.
You will find details of Peter's book and how to purchase this fascinating history of Bulmer here.