IT was a night when an explosion and fire rocked the centre of Hereford. Flashback recalls misery at 'Maison Irma' and a 'Bobby's' safe pair of hands giving a new meaning to the expression 'long arm of the Law'.

THE Police constable was patrolling Hereford's Maylord Street in the early hours of a March morning when a mighty explosion rocked nearby Commercial Square.

Within minutes he was faced with an extraordinary challenge - catching women jumping for their lives.

The story of PC Glazzard and his safe pair of hands was just one of the many to be told after that memorable night in1927.

Fire raged throughout two shops following the explosion and the Hereford Times devoted much space to how the owners and assistants who lived above 'had providential escapes from a horrible death'.

At the corner of Blueschool Street, the hairdresser Mrs Lambert, her baby and a member of staff, Miss Miller, were all asleep when the building shook and fire began to spread at a terrifying rate.


Mother and child just managed to escape, but Miss Miller found her way barred by flames.

Meanwhile, next door, fumes resembling the stench of burning India rubber roused the Harris family, including Mrs Harris, the renowned costumiere of the 'Maison Irma'.

Mr Harris cautiously descended into the cellar whereupon the explosion sent him flying. He was badly burned and hospital was his next port of call.

His wife, who was close behind him on the cellar stairs, was also blown to one side.

She recovered, jostled her infant son awake and they made their escape.

But their maid found herself in the same predicament as Miss Miller and wondered where to turn. The blaze was threatening to engulf her.

Enter the hero - PC Glazzard - who strode into an 'arena' where shards of glass had been scattered over a wide area and flames were lighting up the sky.

The maid appeared at her bedroom window in a distressed state and jumped into the flickering void. The Policeman steadied himself like a test cricketer on the boundary faced with a skied ball that could clinch 'The Ashes'.

But there was life rather than glory at stake and the officer brought off a magnificent catch.

Hardly had the gallant Glazzard recovered from the shock of a lass in her nightie flinging herself at him than he was confronted with a carbon copy situation.

Miss Miller threw herself from a bedroom window and, once more, two long arms of the Law clung to the plunging female.

The two women were, we read, none the worse for their alarming experiences and were able to find shelter for the night at a neighbouring house.

After the drama, Mr T Rawson, Chief Officer of the Fire Brigade, told a Hereford Times reporter that it was "little short of a miracle that no one was burnt to death".

Dire peril

He continued: "When you come to think of it, it seems amazing because for a few moments five people were in dire peril".

The Fire Service came in for praise and was said to have tackled the crisis 'with the precision of a parade'. Not only were lives saved but the grave threat to adjoining premises - Marchant, the tobacconist, and Franklin Barnes, corn merchant - was averted.

It was a night of terror that would never be forgotten by all involved - save one.

Mrs Lambert's seven-month old son had nearly been roasted and was homeless - but our reporter relates how he lay in his cradle in front of a comforting fire simply 'bubbling with happiness'.