Exeter Theatre Royal fire 05/09/1887

The Theatre Royal Fire - 1887

A hurried replacement, also called the Theatre Royal, was built at the top of Longbrook Street. With a capacity for 1,500, the theatre was built with little regard to fire safety – lessons had not been learned. The Exeter Theatre Company moved in during 1886. On the 5th September 1887, on the first night of a romantic comedy called Romany Rye, and with an audience of 800, a naked gas flame ignited some drapes in the fly’s. Within moments, panic broke out as the flames spread. Despite the valiant efforts of the West of England Insurance Co., fire brigade, using the “Little West” fire engine, the flames spread through the building.

Exeter Theatre Royal Fire - remembering Britain's deadliest ever blaze

It remains the largest loss of life in a property fire in the country

The shocking truth behind the 'deadliest ever' theatre fire which claimed 190 Exeter souls

Today marks the 131st anniversary of a devastating fire which claimed the lives of nearly 190 people who had been enjoying a night at the theatre in Exeter.

In an ironic twist of fate the Exeter Theatre Royal, which was just months old having been built to replace a predecessor also destroyed in a blaze, caught fire on the evening of September 5, 1887.


150 years ago saw one of Britain’s worst theatre disasters. Even though the jury reported a verdict of accidental death, was the architect to blame?

The Fire at the Theatre Royal, Exeter

The worst recorded theatre fire in English history was the terrible congflagration that destroyed the Theatre Royal, Exeter, on the night of Monday 5th September, 1887, with a loss of nearly two hundred lives, and many more injured. It was a terrible calamity, but one which, as subsequent investigation would reveal, could have been easily avoided.

Theatre Royal, Exeter, Theatre Royal, Exeter, September 1887

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