On the night of Friday 18th November, 1887, during a fierce winter storm, after the traders had gone to their beds and local people had been forced inside because of heavy snowfall, a light was seen on the first floor of Cutter and Savage’s shop.
Two members of the Smithfield League, Andrew Andrews, a local Farrier, and Charles Punt, an apprentice cobbler, went to the shop to investigate.
They would be the first two men to die in an evening that claimed more than 23 lives and many houses and business premises. Members of the Smithfield League were targeted, as were old associates of Cutter and Savage who had not opposed the league. Fires were laid in several buildings which quickly spread, despite the poor weather.
Sidney Pert, one of the leaders of the League, was found decapitated on Cock Street. The last sighting of William Cutter and Josiah Savage was of them in their shop, which also burnt to the ground that evening.
It was believed that they were inside when the shop went up, however, due to the large amounts of animal fats in the building, the heat being so intense that the flames were only brought under control towards mid-morning the next day.
Their remains were never discovered, although the heat of the fire was thought to have been powerful enough to destroy any evidence.
To this day, the names Cutter & Savage cause long time local residents of the Smithfield area to share stories about the two men, although these days, they are remembered with a certain amount of affection.