MEMORIES of the fire that devastated Lulworth Castle 80 years ago are going on show for the first time.
Over the years Sally Weld, whose family owns the estate, has been collecting memorabilia about the disaster in anticipation of putting the exhibition together.
She said: “We are delighted to be able to open this new exhibition to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the fire, which savaged this beautiful castle.
“As part of the castle’s history, it is a great way to relive the shocking story of what happened over those heartbreaking few days and to remember the castle as it used to be.”
The fire was first detected on the morning of August 29, 1929, by a housemaid, when she smelt smoke and heard cracking glass.
Herbert Weld, castle owner at the time, tried to fight the flames, but could not put out the fire.
Firefighters from Dorchester, Weymouth, Poole and Swanage all tried in vain to tackle the roaring blaze, but by late afternoon the water supply ran out – they even tried to get water from the sea, but did not have long enough hoses.
After three days the fire died down, leaving the castle a ruin.
The exhibition includes items found during the restoration works, as well as press coverage and eyewitness accounts from villagers, 1930s fire-fighting equipment, a period fire extinguisher and brass firemen’s helmets.
The cause of the fire was never determined, but Herbert Weld believed that it was probably due to a fused wire in the store room where it broke out.
It would be another 70 years before the castle, after being restored by English Heritage, was reopened to the public, on March 31 1998.