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The Royal Clarence Hotel Fire (S Devon Branch)
16 March 2017 at 2:15 pm
A lecture: “The Royal Clarence Hotel fire 2016” by Dr Todd Gray, the current President of the Association.
Our President, Dr Todd Gray, gave an illustrated talk to a packed venue about the Royal Clarence Hotel and the fire which destroyed it last October. He began by revealing how he became involved: being asked by a BBC reporter for some background on the hotel. Twelve days later he had given over 50 interviews! With the aid of many photos taken while the fire was being fought, he explained how it started in the nearby picture gallery, travelled through the roof space of the adjacent Well House and how quickly it became evident that the hotel was going to be severely damaged.
Although the Clarence had medieval foundations it had been heavily restored in the 1860s and little original fabric remained. However, the buildings in High Street behind the hotel are just as old and having been much less altered are highly significant, and he described the part he was able to play in saving them from the fire, with advice rapidly garnered from expert building archaeologists. He then told us about the features known to have survived the fire; about the history of the hotel and other buildings in “St Martin’s Island”; and plans for the future.