William Bosley, who then farmed at King’s Farm in Townsend, was up on the Downs where the Atomic Energy Research Establishment is now (1985), his wife was bringing his two daughters home from school at Wallingford in the buggy. Both saw the smoke, and William jumped on his bike and tore down, while his wife whipped up Tommy in the buggy, but when they got to the farm all the buildings were alight, and the villagers were using the old hand fire-engine and had made a human chain of buckets.
William wanted to telephone for the Wantage Fire Brigade, but the only telephone in the village was in the Post Office, opposite King’s Farm, and Miss Hutchings would not let him use it because the shop was closed; they broke down the door and got in, but it was too late.
The stockyard was destroyed, and a thatched cottage where the Barrow link-road is now. Bob Lay remembers it well, and he had to help keep the thatched roof of the large barn in Townsend doused with water. Burning embers spread to The Malthouse and destroyed the thatched malthouse at the back.
The insurance only covered one small Dutch barn. After that William Bosley, Gordon Bosley’s father, had a telephone installed, the first private telephone in Harwell.