Beckton funeral firm hit in arson horror

ARSONISTS have caused �500,000 worth of damage that led to the loss of generations of history for one of Newham’s most respected businesses.

T Cribb & Sons funeral directors, of Manor Way, Beckton, suffered the loss of four horse boxes and Victorian coaches in a fire started deliberately by two men.

By a stroke of luck Sarah Harris, 30, a junior partner in the firm was spending the night at Middlebrook Farm in Essex where many of its horses were stabled.

She told the Recorder one the horses, called Major, is prone to kicking but on the evening of the fire at about 9.20, he was making so much noise, that she thought he was trying to break down the door.

She also heard other sounds and decided to take a look out of the window.

When she looked out she saw flames. She called the Fire Brigade and ran out in to the yard.

There she saw that three horse boxes were ablaze. Next to them were three horses.

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Focused on getting the horses to safety, Sarah ran between the blazing boxes.

By the time she got the horses away from the boxes they were well alight as were the highly prized Victorian carriages within them.

The carriages were the best of their crop which are irreplaceable and go back to the time of her grandfather, the 1890s. They had velvet finishing and had been passed down through the generations.

Sarah said: “They are now gone, they are now dust There was history and sentiment – that’s all one.

“We do work for so many families in the East End and they always request and use our Dottridge carriages.”

Sarah said she saw two men get into the cabs of the horse boxes and set them alight.

Although she has got over the initial shock

She said: “I am absolutely devastated. These people had no regard for the three horses next to the burning boxes. If I had not been here that night these horses would have been lost. How can people be so callous?

“And it was luck too – that the horse was trying to break down the door.”

She has now given him the nickname Guard Dog.

Essex Police have confirmed the fire is being treated as arson and are examining CCTV footage from the night of the fire last Monday in Navestock.

The Beckton based firm has been operating since 1881 and was founded by Thomas Cribb. It has a long and well established history of serving generations of families in east London.

Carriage horses from the firm achieved double success at the famous Royal Windsor Horse Show in October this year. They won not only the Light Trade Class for a record breaking consecutive ninth year but beat the Household Cavalry to scoop the Best in Show Championship.