THIS WEEK IN 1974: £36,000 Gosport coach blaze linked to intruder

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A private coach company suffered huge losses after a suspected intruder set fire to its garage, wreaking havoc to the tune of more than £262,000 in today’s terms.

The blaze at Parco’s company garage, which without considering inflation caused £36,000 worth of damage, led to the destruction of four coaches, a car, and a caravan.

The fire was only a few hundred yards from three Ministry of Defence establishments, but an investigator told a reporter that there was nothing to suggest that it had any political significance.

Harry Hatfield, 52, who brought in his coach from a Bournemouth run before the late-night blaze, had planned to sleep in the caravan parked in front of one of the buses.

Instead, he decided to go to his new lodgings in another part of Gosport, carrying out a check of the premises before he left.

After being called to the scene at midnight, Gosport firefighters spent about three hours tackling the blaze, while Fareham counterparts stood by at Gosport.

Subsequent support from neighbouring Priory Coaches meant no jobs were lost.