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Newspapers Derbyshire Life Parish Magazine

Newspapers - 1970s - Page 2

Joan Birkin, wife of Lawrence Birkin, Builder. They had a son Nicholas Birkin whose daughter Sarah currently runs the Punch Bowl in West Hallam with her partner Scott.

Joan was formally of Mapperley.  Her parents were Tom and Doris Davis. Her sister, Marie, married Ken Birkin, Lawrence’s brother.  Tom’s sisters were Beryl and Doris.

Beryl Westcott nee Davis, sister of Doris Smith nee Davis (mum of Lesley Hatfield)

The following is the newspaper report following the fire which killed Joan and Beryl.

Derby Evening Telegraph
23rd May 1977

Hotel Duc de Brabant Fire - 21 May 1977
Derbyshire Women Die in Hotel Fire

A Moorgreen, Near Langley Mill, woman and her aunt from Chesterfield were among 15 tourists who died in the Brussels hotel fire.

Mrs Joan Birkin (46) of Stoneycroft, Main Road, Moorgreen, wife of building contractor Lawrence Birkin, mother of a 16 year old boy, was on a Continental 15 day coach tour with her aunt Mrs Beryl Westcott, (52) of Ward Street, New Upton, Chesterfield. Her husband Mr David Westcott, a self employed earth moving contractor, was unable to go with them as he could not afford the time off work.

Mr Westcott said “when the police came to tell me about the tragedy I was shocked but not really surprised.” “Nothing seemed to go smoothly for this trip and I felt something might happen. My wife had been on a number of trips in the past two or three years, but this one was different. Nothing seemed to go right. When I took her to catch the bus she almost missed it – now I wished she had”

The couple have two married daughters living in the Chesterfield area.

Two other Derbyshire tourists, Mr and Mrs Watkinson, of Chalton Court, Loudsley Green, Chesterfield, survived the fire, but both received leg injuries and Mrs Watkinson is to have an operation tomorrow.

A spokesman for Bee Line Roadways Ltd of Middlesbrough, the coach tour operators, said today that seven of their 48 passengers died in the fire.

The blaze occurred on the last night of the holiday after a tour through Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.

Bee Line chairman Mr Trevor Barker said that it was inconceivable that the hotel was not safe. We have used it for ten years and found it quite satisfactory. We are not experts in fire regulations but we do look at this sort of things in hotels.  “The Belgians are very very strict on this kind of thing.  The British are strict, but they are nothing compared to the Belgians. It is inconceivable that the hotel was not safe.”

Mr Barker said that one of his senior representatives had visited the hotel, the Duc de Brabant, within the last two months.

June 1977 Parish Magazine

The Vicar writes of a terrible fire in the Le Duc de Brabant hotel in Brussels in which Beryl Davis and Joan Birkin died. (It is hoped to get a copy of this article in due course)

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