walks in ... absinthe anyone ? *rings out hair into glass*
Is it raining absinthe again
*a look of worry passes over face, as the colour drains*
The last time that happened was the early hours of the morning of 6th October 1854 - damn near destroyed Gateshead and parts of Newcastle! It landed on the gaslights don't you know, damned flamable stuff it is! It quickly ignited and caused a rather large fire at the old worsted manufactory of Messrs. Wilson and Sons, in Hillgate.
Terrible thing. The flaming absinthe produced such an intense heat that the bonded warehouse next door, also ignited. This was rather unfortunate, as the warehouse contained a great number of inflammable items...
The heat melted the numerous tons of sulphur which had been stored there, and it flowed out in torrents, like streams of lava; and, as it met the external air, began to blaze: its combustion illumining the river and its shipping, the Tyne, the High Level Bridge, and the church steeples of Newcastle – spreading over every object its lurid and purple light. The flames towered far above the masts of the ships moored at the neighbouring quays. From the various floors of the warehouse huge masses of melted tallow and lead flowed in copious streams. The eight storied edifice was one mass of flame, and from every landing melted sulphur and tallow and fused lead were descending in luminous showers.
A few small explosions were now heard, but no suspicion was entertained of the astounding catastrophe which was about to ensue.
In the immediate neighbourhood of the fire was another bonded warehouse, filled with the most combustible of materials – naptha, nitrate of soda, and potash, as well as immense quantities of tallow and sulphur; and it is also said that a rather large steel vat of high strength absinthe was contained in it. To this building all eyes were directed, because, although a “double fire-proof” structure, and supported on metal pillars and floors, it seemed impossible to prevent the flames from communicating with the dangerous materials within its walls. These fears were well founded. No sooner had the flames reached this compound, which was in fact nothing but a huge fulminating mixture, than an explosion took place, which no pen, nor voice can describe, and which made Newcastle and Gateshead shake to their very foundations. The bridge shook as if it would fall to pieces, and the surface of the river was suddenly agitated as if by a storm. The shock was felt in every street. The front doors of many private persons’ dwellings were violently opened; and the shutters of the shops, particularly towards the quay, were shaken from their fastenings, and strewed about the pavement. Broken glass was under your foot at every step. Every family was suddenly aroused, and their various members rushed together or into the streets to inquire the cause of so frightful an explosion. The sight was best witnessed from the High Level Bridge, which was crowded at the moment with anxious spectators. Suddenly as the explosion took place, that triumph of engineering skill began to vibrate like a piece of thin wire, and the first thought of those upon it was, that that magnificent erection was about to fall. The projection of the flaming materials across the river was a wonderful sight for those who had coolness enough to witness it, but there were very few in that condition. A universal stupor seems rather to have prevailed everywhere, first broken by the screams and wailings of women and children, and by the ignition of the houses on the Newcastle side of the river. It was some time, however, before the minds of the spectators awoke to the full extent of the calamity.
The shock of the tremendous explosion was felt over the whole eastern seaboard, from Blyth, in Northumberland, to Seaham, six miles to the south of Sunderland. The concussion shook all the buildings in the large manufactories on the shores of the Tyne between Newcastle and Shields, extinguished the lights, and caused the greatest alarm to the workmen, who rushed into the open air in terror and excitement. In the seaports of Shields, nine miles off, it produced all the results of an earthquake, rocking the houses, “thudding” against the doors, shaking the windows, and causing the inmates to jump out of bed in alarm and astonishment. In detached dwellings and lone farmhouses the watchdogs commenced a violent barking and noise, which, with the concussion and shaking of the doors and windows, produced an impression that an attack was contemplated by burglars. In the pit villages the impression was that an explosion had taken place in the bowels of the earth. Papers and books, partially burnt, were picked up in the fields at the Fellgate, near the Brockley-whins railway-station six miles off; and a master of a sailing vessel, on his passage to the Tyne, felt the shock ten miles off at sea.
At St. Mary's Church many of the gravestones in the churchyard were removed by the force of the explosion, and thrown to a considerable distance, knocking in the walls of some of the adjoining houses.
It was some days before the conflagration was subdued. The heat had been so intense that the rivets of the High Level Bridge were found to have popped out, and a number were missing - indeed many reported hearing the rivets pop, and the unearthly wail and screech of the metal structure in the heat.
Double brandy, please barkeep.
*takes drink and sits by fire, stares into the flames*