The Victoria Hotel we know today narrowly escaped total destruction by fire on 9 September, 1874 and owes its salvation to a young girl named “Ellen Ford”, who was engaged at the hotel as a domestic servant.
The building had an attic above the two stories and the roof was slate. An old man was staying in the attic and was intoxicated at the time. The landlord, Mr James Searles, checked on him at 3am and was astonished to find flames around a window. He aroused his family and the servant then got the old man out. It appears the old man set fire to the blind.
The fire had taken hold of the roof timbers. The girl, Ellen Ford, rushed up without dressing herself and from 3am until daylight carried buckets of water from an underground well up three flights of stairs. Mr Searles had to stop her from climbing out onto the roof to throw water on the fire. He said she would have slipped and fallen to her death. It was hoped the brave girl received a reward for her service.