If I Don’t Put It Here It Will Get Rubbed Out Eventually

scene of a fire in an electrical shop on Mill Road in Cambridge
scene of a fire in an electrical shop on Mill Road in Cambridge

Why did I take the photos of the burned-out shop on Mill Road? I had the camera with me, and I was drawn as though on rails to the scene of the fire.

Earlier, when I was further down Gwydir Street I saw a woman explaining to a motorist that the car would not be able to exit onto Mill Road. I thought she meant because of the roadworks. I wasn’t sure whether she meant pedestrians as well as motorists, because I could see a police car parked way down at the end of the street.

I thought then perhaps someone had been injured, a crime or an accident.

I was on my way to the Visitor Centre at the David Parr House on Gwydir Street and I wasn’t sure whether that was beyond the crossroads or before it. In the event, it was before the crossroads and when I went in the woman who runs the Centre explained that there had been a fire on Mill Road in an empty electrical shop.

She said the woman who owned the shop had been taken ill a few weeks before and so the shop was empty. And she had been a local character and the shop was very old. And her husband had died from a heart attack not long ago.

Now I read that the shop was named H Gee Electrical and that it took fire crews 19 hours to tackle the blaze, and that nearby residents had to be evacuated from their homes, and were given shelter at the Islamic Centre on Devonshire Road and the Earl of Beaconsfield pub.

I saw a blaze once. A big building with flames reaching up into the sky. I thought at the time it seemed unreal – people standing, looking, and the building the most energetic thing in the scene.

When I think of the Blitz in London during the war, I am in awe of the resilience of people who had to live through that bombing. And not just one night – two months of it.

Were they hardened, made stronger, weaker, more troubled, more found, by the experience?


  1. writemeow says:

    I’ve seen blazes … not _really_ big buildings, perhaps, but big enough. Took a picture of a car on fire once, and I have no idea why I did that.

    Those were unimaginable times … all those people that lived through it; in hindsight they were probably wondering how the hell they coped but when you’re in the midst of it you just deal with it … I guess. You do what you have to do.


    1. I guess you are right – when there is no choice, you do what you have to do. Do you still have your blazing car photo? For me, if it was a ‘real’ film print it would probably be in a a shoebox and still there. But I get ‘tidy syndrome’ with digital.. 🙂


      1. writemeow says:

        Funny … as soon as I’d typed that, I started looking for it. I lost all my pictures when that external hard drive broke but they’re all in Flickr. Apparently, I had not tagged it … I searched for ‘fire’ ‘car’ and the place where it was … nothing. So if I ever find it again, it will be totally by chance.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. writemeow says:

        November 2009 … found it now by chance 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I just love this whole post. Thank you for a happy read! I love the pictures, the story … the mood … everything. Well done!


    1. Nice to hear – it perked me up!

      Liked by 1 person

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