VILLAGERS in Powerstock are in mourning for their beloved school, destroyed by fire on Monday.

Parents, staff and governors say it is a ‘terrible tragedy’ and have pledged to do whatever has to be done to secure its future.

Firefighters were called shortly after 6am on Monday but it was too late to save the building.

Incident commander Toman Lau, pictured left, said the fire had taken such a hold there was no way the main part of the Victorian school could be saved so they had to concentrate on saving the adjoining buildings, one of which was already alight.

The rescue operation was hampered by the lack of fire hydrants in the village, said Mr Toman.

He said: “We carry 500 gallons of water but the first pump ran out of water in three minutes.

“We had to get the water from the river and that takes time.”

Mr Lau said there was no evidence the fire was started deliberately and although it was too early to say, the cause was likely to have been an electrical fault. At least four crews were on the scene, which was cordoned off for safety reasons and firefighters remained on scene all day.

Mr Toman added: “The gables are cracking away from the main part of the building. As it is cooling down it is cracking more.”

The building was so unsafe that crews could only fight the blaze from outside.

The village road was closed by police and electricity was off for several hours.


The ruins of Powerstock School which burnt down on Monday are to be rebuilt.

The Diocese of Salisbury, which owns the school, said its surveyor had met the head and governors on site and estimated that the rebuild should take around 15 months.

The spokesman said: “It may be that the school can re-open next week but we have to confirm that.

“We have forensics going in on Thursday.

“At the moment the estimate is it is going to take 15 months to repair it.”

Assuming power can be restored to the site it is anticipated the newer buildings of the school will open after half term, said a Dorset County Council spokesman.

West Dorset District Council’s design and conservation team are appealing for anyone with internal records of the building, either photographs, drawings or videos, to get in contact so that the records can be used to help restore the building as much as possible to how it was originally.

The main Victorian part of the school was completely destroyed by the fire that started in the early hours of Monday.

Parents on the parent teachers’ association said they would do their ‘utmost’ to secure the school’s future.

Tisha Crutchley said: “It was a terrible thing to happen but we want to be positive about it.

“It is a lovely school and my son loves it.

“We will all do our utmost.”

Fellow member Christine Endecott said there was no doubt parents would be fully behind getting the school up and running again.

Bridport parent Jo Wallace, who has a 10 and a seven-year-old at the school, added: “It is really shocking news.

“Our youngest is due to start there next September hopefully. The children are quite upset.

“I hope they rebuild it, it is a happy school.

“Parents will do their utmost to see that happen.

“It is an awful tragedy. It is a lovely old building.”

School governor Felicity Fairbairn was busy dispensing tea to firefighters as their work continued throughout the day on Monday.

She said: “So long as we are allowed to we will carry on because not all the classrooms have gone and we have the village hut.

“Everyone in the village is really keen on the school.”

Despite heavy rain Bridport fire crews had to visit the school at 11.30am on Wednesday to remove the dangerous roof timbers and make the building as safe as possible.

The school’s staff, governors and the council will be meeting on Thursday to discuss the future of the school.

Parents will be informed on Friday as to whether the school will re-open after half term.