Owner feared for beloved inn

HADLEIGH: A landlord today told how he tackled a fire which was threatening to destroy his beloved 500-year-old pub.

Burning embers rained down from the chimney of the Eight Bells Inn, in Hadleigh, at around 12.30pm yesterday.

“It was like bright lights coming down,” said owner Gianni Baldissin.

“I had lit the fire about 15 minutes before. It wasn’t a roaring blaze, but it was enough for the soot in the chimney to catch alight and for pieces to come down.”

The 63-year-old feared for the safety of his treasured pub, which has been in his family for more than a century.

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“I put a griddle over the fire and a guard around it to try and contain it and then slowed the fire down with some water while we waited for the fire brigade.”

His efforts prevented the fire raging out of control and when crews from Hadleigh arrived they broke up the soot using chimney rods to completely extinguish the blaze.

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“It would have been devastating if it had spread.”

A turntable ladder was also used to reach the roof of the pub and remove the chimney pot, which was considered unstable.

“They did a grand job, they cleaned the chimney out and removed the pot,” said Mr Baldissin.

Former chimney sweep Kenny Mowles was drinking in the Angel Street pub when the fire started.

“He was telling us what to do,” said Mr Baldissin. “Not even the carpet was ruined, there was just a big mess afterwards, but you could eat your dinner next to the fire now.”

Mr Baldissin has worked in the pub since the 1950s and when his father-in-law retired in 1976, he bought it from the brewery.

He and his wife are the fourth generation of her family to live at and run the pub.

n Do you have memories of the Eight Bells Inn? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail t eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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