Video: OAP's sadness at destruction of home he built

A PENSIONER has spoken of his sadness after the house he helped his father build was completely destroyed by a huge fire.

Anthony Bond

A PENSIONER has spoken of his sadness after the house he helped his father build was completely destroyed by a huge fire.

Andrew Haig, 87, lived at Broomstubbs, in Waldringfield, near Woodbridge, for 30 years before he sold it to a property developer in 2006.

He was just 15 when he helped his stockbroker father Donald Haig build the timber-framed house with a garage and two wooden outbuildings in 1935/36.

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But on Tuesday night Broomstubbs, and one of the outbuildings called Broomcorner - which had been converted into a small house - were destroyed by a massive fire.

Four people had to make a quick escape from the two homes as all their belongings burned. Just two chimney stacks are all that is left.

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Retired insurance broker Mr Haig, who now lives in Felixstowe with his wife Cynthia, 78, went to see his former family home yesterdaymorning: “I could not believe it,” he said. “The first thing that struck me was the total destruction of the house which I gather took place in an hour-and-a half.

“I would not have thought that two large buildings could have been destroyed in that time but they were.

“It was the first house that my parents lived in during their married life. They were both very fond of the house and I am sure that both of them would have been very sad to see its demise.”

Mr Haig's father Donald purchased a four-acre field off Cliff Road in Waldringfield for just �200 in 1935. He lived on a house-boat on the River Thames with his wife Dorothy but due to his retirement as a London stockbroker and his passion for boats he decided to move to Waldringfield.

He asked his 15-year-old son Andrew to draw up plans for the house and in 1936 the family moved in. It was called Broomstubbs and had four bedrooms and three sitting rooms all facing the River Deben.

As well as the main house Donald also had a 40ft workshop, a garage and a garden shed built.

Following Donald's death in 1949 the workshop was converted into a home called Broomcorner and the garden shed was also extended and turned into a home called Little Stubbs. All three properties were completely made of wood.

In 1975 Mr Haig returned to live in the house he helped his father build following the death of his mother Dorothy the year before. In 2006 he sold Broomstubbs, Broomcorner and Little Stubbs to a property developer for �500,000. They had cost his father just �1,720 to build.

But only Little Stubbs survived Tuesday night's horrific fire.

Although he is devastated by the destruction caused by the blaze, Mr Haig said it at least meant he did not have to watch his former family home be redeveloped as he feared it soon would.

“I am obviously very sad at the house burning down,” he said. “But it has meant that I have not had to witness it be pulled down piece-by-piece which would have been rather sad, especially spread over a period of time.”

It is believed that Tuesday night's fire started in a Range Rover parked in a garage shortly before 7.15pm before it quickly spread to Broomcorner. A man living in the house attempted to put the fire out with an extinguisher but it soon spread to Broomstubbs. A man, woman and boy had to escape through a side door rather than the front due to the intensity of the blaze.

About 55 firefighters were called to the scene but could do little to prevent the two properties from being completely destroyed.

Neighbour Chris Collins described how he ran to warn the occupiers of the two homes of the blaze.

“I was standing in my garden and could see a very small fire,” he said. “I thought somebody was having a bonfire. In a few seconds it got bigger and bigger. I walked over to the neighbours to see their Range Rover on fire. It looked like a giant fireball. I ran round to my neighbours' house and told them to get out.”

Firefighters spent yesterdaymorning damping down at the scene and an investigation into how the fire started is being carried out. The occupiers of both properties were too upset to speak yesterday.

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