Leeds nostalgia: Tragic loss of life in January 1946...

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On this day in 1946, readers of the YEP were waking up to the terrible news of one of the worst tragedies in living memory, after five children from the same family died in a house fire.

The incident took place on Manor Road, Askern, near Doncaster.

The five children were Pat Baldwin, 13, Desmond Baldwin, 11, Margaret Baldwin, nine, Isabel Baldwin, five and Johnny Gray, three. They were the children of Mr and Mrs Gray, the first four being from Mrs Gray’s first marriage.

The report said the father had been working at the Bentley Colliery at the time of the fire, while the mother was said to be in Sunderland.

At the parish church, where the Union Jack flag flew at half mast, the Rev W C S Rutter said b Both parents were said to be too heartbroken to speak about their loss.

Mrs Gray, 33, had been to Sunderland to regain custody of her eight-year-old daughter, Julia. She was informed there had been a fire when leaving the station in Sunderland but not given the full details until she arrived at a house in Llewellyn Crescent, where her husband had gone to be with his uncle, at which point it is said she completely broke down.

Mrs Gray came from Sunderland but was forced to move from her home due to bomb damage, her children at the time were placed in protective care but she had been gradually getting them back to begin a new home in Leeds.

She had been working as a sewing machinist and only a week before the tragedy, had bought herself a new sewing machine.

Local schools and businesses, together with residents, all expressed their deep remorse for the unexpected loss of life.