Shocking photos show Edwardian mansion being gutted by fire

Staff writer

These shocking photos show an Edwardian mansion left gutted after a raging fire which took seven hours to bring under control. Grade II listed Scalesceugh Hall became engulfed in flames after a fire broke out just before 11pm on Tuesday, 17 September.

Seven engines and a joint incident command unit were used as firefighters spent most of the night tackling the blaze. The mansion has been restored and 13 luxury "later living" villas including a wellness centre aimed at the over-55s built in the grounds of the estate as part of a £3.6m redevelopment.

Luckily, nobody was hurt but the main part of the hall has been almost completely destroyed. However, the efforts of firefighters prevented flames spreading to any of the other buildings at the site in Carleton near Carlisle, Cumbria.

As the last embers were still being doused by firefighters this morning (Wed), construction staff looked on as their major renovation project was left a smouldering wreck.

The roof collapsed during the night and only the stone walls of the main building remain which are cloaked in steam from the thousands of gallons of water still being pumped onto the wreckage.

In an emotional statement, owners Bruno and Anita Herdeiro said: "It is with deep sadness we can confirm the main building of Scalesceugh Hall was extensively damaged by fire last night.

"Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and all the residents of Scalesceugh Villas were evacuated safely as a precaution.

"The villas were not touched by the fire, and our Wellness Centre, currently being constructed, was also undamaged.

"We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to firefighters who attended from across the area for their tireless efforts to bring the blaze under control and stop it spreading any further.

"We have put our hearts and souls, time, love and much money into restoring the Edwardian mansion that brought us to this beautiful corner of Cumbria.

"This is a very difficult day for us. We are devastated by what has happened.

"Nevertheless, we remain committed to our dream, to provide a stunning place to live at Scalesceugh. This setback, though devastating, will not deter us from carrying on.

"Thank you to everyone for your concern and support. We will be releasing more statements in time, on our website, on social media and in the local media."

Residents at the retirement estate were left shaken by the blaze, some having been evacuated by firefighters in the middle of the night as the fire threatened to engulf their homes.

Neighbour Andrew Buck, 75, a retired chartered accountant, said: "The first thing I saw was the roof on fire and the glow coming through the trees while I was getting ready for bed.

"The building was already well lit when I saw what was happening. It had spread right across the roof.

"One of our neighbours had called the fire brigade."

The married father-of-two said he went back to bed at 3.30am and the fire was still burning.

Fire crews raced to the scene and were met by well-developed blaze on arrival. The incident was finally brought under control by about 6am, but fire crews remain at the scene.

Stuart Hook, incident commander/station manager, said: "Initially we mobilised two fire engines from Carlisle, but as we arrived we saw that the fire was going through the roof.

"We saw it was a well-developed fire on arrival. At that point, we had people missing and our priority was search and rescue.

"It soon became apparent that everyone was accounted for, and by that point, we had got about eight appliances out."

The Scalesceugh Estate dates back 500 years, when the first farmhouse was built on the land. A country house was added in 1746. John Robinson Harrison inherited the site 100 years later and, when he retired from shipbuilding, hired Glaswegian architect Alexander N Paterson to build Scalesceugh Hall.

The result is a grand mansion with Westmorland slate roof, Italian fireplaces, buff sandstone dressings, and French chateau-style detailing. The property was passed down to Harrison's descendants but was ­eventually donated to the Cerebral Palsy Trust. In 2011, after 20 years in the stately home, the centre closed.

The building was put up for sale after the council couldn't afford the ­upkeep. Anita is a GP with an interest in elderly medicine who worked for the Red Cross in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami.

Bruno is a former management consultant whose work has included developing a 10-year global plan for Save the Children.

The £3.6 million, privately financed scheme is modelled on projects in Scandinavia countries and Australia but is new to the UK.