CAR COLLECTION AND BUSINESS WRECKED BY FIRE
Owner hospitalised after £500,000 fleet of wedding classics destroyed
Melvin Dolby, from Thorney in Cambridgeshire, has suffered from a heart attack through the effects of smoke inhalation after a serious fire wrecked his home and classic wedding hire car business, worth in excess of £500,000.
Melvin built up Classic Wedding Cars Peterborough with his wife Sue, and a 10-car collection, which included a 1930 Beauford, a 1937 Studebaker, a 1950 Bentley and a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.
The cars, garage, and the Dolbys’ adjacent house were burnt to the ground in the fire that was whipped up by the effects of Storm Imogen as it moved eastwards across the country.
An entire fleet of classic wedding cars was wiped out when fire devastated a Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, family’s business on 8 February.
Classic car enthusiast Melvin Dolby, who had built up the Classic Wedding Cars Peterborough business with his wife Sue, was taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack and suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation following the fire.
Ten cars including a 1937 Studebaker, 1950 Bentley and a 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, worth a total of about £500,000 were destroyed at the fire near Thorney, Cambridgeshire. The cars, garage, and the Dolby’s adjacent house was ruined in the blaze that was whipped up by the effects of Storm Imogen as it moved eastwards.
Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service reported that the fire was an accident that had started in the garage and quickly spread throughout the large building and to the house owing to the strong winds and a fuel tank became involved in the fire. About 60 fire fighters helped to tackle the blaze and the adjacent A47 road had to be closed while the fire was brought under control. The call about the fire came in at just after 6pm and the incident was scaled down after 11pm.
‘This was a particularly difficult fire to tackle, as it was exacerbated by strong winds, cylinders in the garage and the need for a large water supply,’ says group commander Sean Brown. ‘Sadly the fire has completely destroyed the garage, its contents and the adjoining house.’
David Glyn Jones, chairman of the National Association of Wedding Car Professionals, says: ‘I think I speak on behalf of the whole industry in sending our sincere condolences to the Dolbys. Losing your cherished and much loved cars is to me like losing a child, in this case it seems like a whole family.’
Classic car owner Robert Elliot of Thorney passes the premises every day on his way to and from work and saw the fire on the Monday night. ‘I’d see Mr Dolby preparing his cars for weddings quite often,’ he says. ‘It’s so sad they’ve been destroyed. He’s a lovely chap.’
The Dolbys’ 2007 Bessacar Cameo caravan was pulled away from the fire but in a sad twist to the tragedy, this was stolen from the property at Wayside, The Causeway, Thorney, Cambs PE6 0QH on the Thursday evening following the blaze while the family was visiting Mr Dolby in hospital. Police are appealing to trace the drivers of two Ford Transit-style vans – one described as being blue and the other described as being white – seen in the area at the time.
If you were driving a van near the scene, or have any information about the theft, please contact Cambridgeshire police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
The fire was said to have started in an adjacent garage.