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18th Century Hampshire mill gutted by blaze

Bere Mill fire
(Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service)

A fire over night has badly damaged the historic Bere Mill in Whitchurch, Hampshire.

No one was injured in the incident that, according to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, began at 22:10.

Over 50 firefighters and 12 fire engines from Whitchurch, Overton, Andover, Sutton Scotney, Winchester, Basingstoke, Eastleigh and appliances from the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene.

The Hampshire Force’s Twitter page said that the fire was brought under control but two buildings were severely damaged.

The Hazardous Area Response Team of the South Central Ambulance Service were also on standby at the incident.

Bere Mill, in London Road in Whitchurch, is well known for becoming a paper mill, and contracted to produce the first watermarked bank notes for the Bank of England under the ownership of Henry Portal.

The Breaker spoke to Mick Edgeworth, former chairman of the Hampshire Mills Group who have surveyed and made visits to the Mill, said: “The Mill was built in 1710 and began producing paper in 1713 under its then owner Henry Portal.” Mr Portal went onto own a number of mills around Hampshire.

“The mill changed hands when Mr Nabarro took over the estate in 1994 and he still owns it today. He tends to open the gardens rather than the mill”. The mill is also home to a butchery, farm-shop and opens its garden’s three times a year under the National Garden’s Scheme.

Mr Edgeworth was sent a report on the fire earlier this morning, he said: “The fire most likely started in the mill house, with the mill itself nearby. The single track road to the mill is very difficult to drive down.” He said this could have proved challenging for the fire appliances to access the site.

The mill and farm were due to host the 2018 Hampshire Country & Garden Festival on Sunday 10th June.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue have now said that the roof, first floor and ground floor of the buildings were damaged in the fire. London Road was shut due to the large number of vehicles attending the scene throughout the night.

Pictures courtesy of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

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