Date: 23 Jul 1946
Gertrude Maude Partridge died in an explosion at the office that she had been working in.
A verdict of death by misadventure was returned at her inquest after it was heard that she had accidently overturned a petrol tin in the room whilst she was trying to burn some toast in a fire.
She was found in the office, where she had been in sole charge and working alone, following an explosion on the afternoon of Monday 22 July 1946 and later died in hospital the following day at 3.30am, 23 July 1946. She died from severe burns on her face, neck, hands and legs.
The office was found locked from the outside.
When the NFS arrived following reports of a sudden burst of smoke and flames from the building, they found the inner door of the office locked with the key on the outside, and an overturned petrol tin lying on the floor inside. Gertrude Partridge was found on the other side of the room from the main door by another door which was also locked, with the key on the inside and it was thought that she had been trying to get out of the office at the time and had collapsed.
It was later heard at her inquest on 25 July 1946 that she had had six slices of bread that were too dry to eat in the office with her and that it was thought that she had been afraid to put them in the bin in case she might be prosecuted for wasting bread and had been trying to burn them with petrol in the fireplace. A number of unburnt, but blackened slices of bread that had been saturated with petrol were found in the fire grate.
It was thought that she must have had overturned the petrol tin and caused the fire or explosion as she was burning the bread.
Gertrude Partridge had lived in Valkyrie Road in Wallasey, Cheshire and had been engaged to marry on 17 August 1946 to a dental mechanic from Wallasey.
In an unconnected affair on Tuesday 30 July 1946, Messrs J Lyons and Co. Ltd of Cadby Hall in West Kensington, London, were fined £300 with 200 guineas costs for allowing about seven tons of food to be wasted between 12 December 1945 and 2 January 1946. They were also fined £5 for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent mice infestation.
see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 25 July 1946
see Shields Daily News - Tuesday 23 July 1946
see Staffordshire Sentinel - Tuesday 30 July 1946