The burial of five girls killed in a fire at the Picture Palace – December 1911


On 27th December 1911, a fire broke out in the dressing room of the Picture Palace, on Burlington Street, where a group of young girls were waiting to go on stage  and perform an Eskimo dance. Their costumes were made of highly flammable cotton wool, and one caught fire from a spark which may have been from the fire or from a cigarette. She panicked, and in the ensuing melee  other girls caught fire. Following the deaths  of five children; Lizzie Bell (13), Lydia Smith (12), Mabel Swaine (13), Ada Tidball (13) and Winifred Wood (13) from burns, there was a huge Memorial at the Crooked Spire, on January 1st.

They were then buried close together in Spital Cemetery, in pauper graves among other graves. Their graves, the site previously being marked by a wicker cross, have recently received new gravestones as a memorial to the event.



War graves in Spital Cemetery

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission cares for 42 graves, including four personal memorials and two with personal and CWGC headstones. Most are Hopton Wood stone. There are 35 for WWI and 7 for WWII. The eldest is 51, the first date is April 1916 and the last date is April 1921.


J T Spooner HMS Powerful died 24 March 1918 aged 17. He is the youngest to be buried in a war grave and the only sailor.


Memorial to two brothers killed within 24 hours of each other – rare for this to have happened. Joseph and Benjamin Goddard died on 24/25 June 1917 serving with the Sherwood Foresters. Both were employed at Barlborough Colliery and their parents lived at Lower Hipper St Chesterfield.