Jane Embury finds literary magic in an Edinburgh fire
When fire breaks out, it must be contained. People can evacuate safely and damage can be minimised.
The danger of an uncontained fire was highlighted by a blaze in Edinburgh last month.
It spread from one café to an adjoining café. However, amid all the damage, there was a bit of literary magic.
Because a table in The Elephant House Cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter was saved.
The owner of the cafe, David Taylor, said he was “immensely relieved” to find the wooden table used by Rowling in the rubble.
Although water and smoke damaged, it’s now gone to restorers. A little bit of bookish history has been retained.
The Elephant House Cafe is where the author wrote the first instalments of the Harry Potter novels. It’s also become a popular tourist destination for fans of the boy wizard.
But the fire, which started in the next door café, wasn’t contained, badly damaging both premises.
The photograph above was taken at King’s Cross station in London, the starting point for journeys to Hogwarts. We were also much involved in the station’s renovation and refurbishment.
Like the Edinburgh café, the station is also a place of pilgrimage for budding wizards, with Network Rail designating a Platform 9¾ with a luggage trolley half buried into the wall although, disappointingly, rail services only go as far as Scotland.
But we shouldn’t forget that in 2019/20, the UK suffered 286 fire fatalities. Thankfully, that’s lower than 20 years ago when fire fatalities were consistently over 500.
The impact of a major fire can be devastating, and many businesses never recover.
The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA) says that 43% of business interruption policies were underinsured by an average of 53%.
In other words, the threat of fire is something that should be planned for because, although rare events, fires do happen.
We wish the Elephant House Café, and its neighbouring café, every success for the future.
We’re also glad that a little bit of writing magic has been saved.