Guests were forced to flee in their nightclothes when part of a hotel caught fire 50 years ago this month.

Damage costing tens of thousands of pounds was caused to the 16th century Crown Hotel at Faringdon when the blaze swept through one wing in November 1973.

Four guests were evacuated, with two of them losing all their possessions.

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Retired fireman Bill Law was reminded of the part he played in tackling the fire when we featured photographs from the 1970s, including the one above, in our Looking Back page (Memory Lane, February 7).

He is at the top of the ladder, with colleague Chris Cornwell at the bottom.

The Oxford Mail reported at the time: “The fire started shortly before 6am and within 10 minutes, a large section of the first floor of the wing at the rear of the 23-bedroomed hotel was blazing fiercely.

“When the fire brigade from Faringdon arrived, a large section of the roof was also well alight.”

Crews from Reading, Wantage and Bampton reinforced the Faringdon brigade, and a turntable ladder from Swindon was also sent.

The hotel had changed hands two weeks earlier and new owner Hugh Corbett and manager Trustram Eve had been discussing new fire precautions for the building.

Oxford Mail: Mr Eve, alerted to the blaze by one of his staff, said: “I rushed downstairs and into the courtyard.

“I could see flames through some of the upstairs windows. Mr Corbett had also been awakened. While one of our staff phoned for the brigade, we roused guests and staff.”

The Faringdon brigade was at the scene within four minutes, but by then, the guests – two married couples – had been evacuated.

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Mr Eve said: “Fortunately, the fire had not got too strong a hold and we were able to get everyone out safely, although one couple lost all their clothes.”

One guest, Brian Baker, from London, said: “I opened the bedroom door and was met by thick smoke. I woke my wife and we managed to throw on a few clothes.”

More than 20 firemen fought the fire and managed to confine it to one wing. A huge pall of smoke rose over Faringdon as a large section of the wing roof caved in.

Later, Sub-Officer George Cornwell, who led the Faringdon brigade, received a letter from Chief Fire Officer Mr KC Bridges praising him and his men on the way they tackled the fire.

The Old Crown Coaching Inn in Market Place is a now luxury hotel.

The Courtroom is its largest and most luxurious room.

It features a king sized four-poster bed, 75-inch flat screen TV, lounge area, extra-large bathtub and shower.

This room is ideal for special occasions, according to the hotel.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.