From the Darlington & Stockton Times of January 26, 1924: The combined magnificence of the four North Yorkshire fire brigades could not prevent three Dutch barns of hay, straw and barley, worth £1,500, being consumed by fire 100 years ago this week.

The blaze at Exelby was spotted at about 9pm, so farmer Mr G Wilkinson drove in his motor car into Bedale to alert the brigade which, said the D&S Times, “rushed to the scene with their antiquated manual engine with the date of the 18th Century on it”.

“Their attempt to quench such a blaze with so puny a jet as was pumped from the farm well looked rather ludicrous,” said the paper. “The gallant brigade, however, did their best with their feeble instrument…”

Darlington and Stockton Times: A major fire broke out 100 years ago this week

Soon the farm well was exhausted. The Northallerton brigade were unable to respond to the call-out “as their engine had been taken to pieces”, and so Ripon were called upon, arriving at 11.15pm.

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Their stronger pump drew water from a pond 400 yards away, and by 8am the blaze was all but out so they spread the burnt hay across a field and departed.

A wind sprang up and reignited the flames shortly after noon.

However, the Ripon brigade were unable to return to the scene as they had yet to get home as their fire engine had broken down, so Mr Wilkinson called on the Masham brigade who stayed at the farm until that evening when everything that could be burned had been burned.