Station: [21] Fires

Fire! Fire! Quick, fetch the buckets and form a chain!

Over the centuries, Radeberg suffered several devastating fires. From the late Middle Ages onwards, houses were built of timber, or wattle and daub, and roofs were thatched or had wooden shingles. Ideal conditions for any fire to spread rapidly in the heavily built-up town. Small linen buckets or – later on, the first fire squirts – sadly had little effect on the flames.

The town was almost completely burnt to the ground in the three worst fire disasters. In 1521, the Radeberg fire prompted Duke Georg to issue Saxony’s first ever fire regulations. In 1714, the entire town was gutted by fire within just a few hours – and then the same thing happened again in 1741. Hundreds of people lost everything.

After the 1714 disaster, the then sovereign, August the Strong, swung into action. He announced three lotteries, the profits of which were to benefit the devastated town of Radeberg – or more precisely:

“the reconstruction of the church, destroyed by fire after it was hit by lightning three times on the 13th of July and is still reduced to ashes, also the tower of the school and the homes of two priests.”

Incidentally, Klippenstein remained unaffected by most of the major fires. Its location on the edge of town, and above all, the large pond between the palace and the town, saved it from the worst.

Do you see the large, curved glass case on the right? On display in there are some of the culprits that were doubtless to blame for the odd fire: lanterns and oil lamps of the type used in every household before the introduction of electricity. The archway where they are now displayed was a portal in historic times – it used to be the only way of getting from the dining hall out into the courtyard.

All depictions: © Stadt- und Fachwerkmuseum Eppingen