Category Archives: Vintage Fire

NPO 833R Guernsey FRS Land Rover Defender

NPO 833R
Guernsey FRS
Land Rover Defender
The vehicle was used as a light strike vehicle with designation Fire 7. It often supported larger fire appliance at fires and road accidents. When adopted by Alderney Fire Brigade its callsign changed to Red 7. It was fitted with a 7m ladder. A hosereel that was originally fitted to the front didn’t help handling characterists and so was removed. When operational, it spent one week on and one week off frontline duties, alternating with a 6-wheel Range Rover.

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LP 8389 ex-London Fire Brigade Dennis Type N

LP 8389
ex-London Fire Brigade
Dennis Type N

The open-top appliance has two seats at the front and wooden planks down the side for firemen to sit on as the keep hold of the ladder. A traditional bell is mounted at the front as well as the hole to enter the cranking handle to start it.

New in 1916, this appliance has quite some history behind it! It started life with London Fire Brigade in 1916 and was retired in 1932. It then became the factory fire engine for Joseph Crosfield and Sons Limited in Warrington. In 1955 they decided to donate it to Imperial College London for educational purposes. Four brave students drove the temperamental appliance some 200 miles from Warrington to London at speeds of up to 35 mph! It remains with Imperial College today.

Some of its TV and film appearances include Blue Peter in 1982 and Downton Abbey in 2014.

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Edinburgh Fire Museum on Lauriston Place

Edinburgh Fire Museum on Lauriston Place – with visions of yesteryear. Construction of the building as a fire station was completed in June 1900 at a cost of £43,000. Accommodation for the firemaster was included, as well as rooms for 30 firemen and their families. There was also workshops, stables (for horse-drawn appliances), laundry and (later) a control room. The museum has used the main bays since 1988. As of 2016, the building’s future is in doubt as the fire service look to move out and sell it. This would end over 100 years of fire appliances being based in the bays.

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SY 6848 Dennis Limousine

SY 6848
Dennis Limousine
Manufactured in 1936 and stationed at Musselburgh, East Lothian. This was one of the first covered appliances. The primary reason was to keep the equipment safe and dry rather than protecting the firemen from the rain and cold.

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WS 113 Leith Fire Brigade Halley fire appliance

WS 113
Leith Fire Brigade
Halley fire appliance
Manufactured in 1910 by Halley Company, Glasgow, for £1000. It is one of the oldest motorised fire appliances in existence and the only example of this type of appliance in the world. It is unusual because it is mad mainly of wood, even the wheels, which have solid rubber tyres. After service in Leith it was used as a stand by appliance at Bangour Village Hospital from 1932. It then became a breakdown lorry followed by being bought by an enthusiasts for preservation. The enthusiast passed away in 1965 and the appliance was bought at auction by Carlsberg for £1740. They then kindly donated it to the Edinburgh Fire Museum.

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SL 1943 National Fire Service Austin Taxi

SL 1943
National Fire Service
Austin Taxi
Commandeered by the NFS between 1939 and 1945, this Kirkintilloch taxi had ladders attached to the roof and firefighting equipment such as hose branches stowed in the passenger area. To all intents it was a fire appliance and attended many blazes during the Second World War.

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Ampleforth Abbey Fire Squad

Ampleforth Abbey Fire Squad helmet.

The North Yorkshire abbey  and college had a fire squad for about sixty years, run by volunteer monks. It was formed in the Second World War and its first vehicle was an old estate towing a trailer pump. The squad continued until about 2000 when it was dissolved, mainly on the ground that it was the abbey’s biggest risk because of its amateur nature. It had largely ceased to be necessary because of the enormous increase in smoke detectors, and the efficiency of the local fire service. By 2000, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service could attend the rural location of the abbey within about 20 minutes, whereas the abbey’s fire squad took about 10 minutes.

They never had more than one vehicle at a time, but there was a succession of cast-offs from North Yorkshire FRS, usually through Malton. The last (and best) was a Green Goddess Bedford RLHZ, purchased direct from a job lot of 750 at Rillington airfield, South of Doncaster. They chose the demonstration model as they knew it worked!

The monks of the fire squad attended a number of fires over the years, but only two (1954 and 1962) showed any tendency to get out of hand, but failed to achieve this. From around 1952, they acquired a siren to use as a call and for general information (but not as a local alarm). In later years they had some problems with Civil Defence, since by about 1970 any air-raid type siren meant that an air attack was imminent. Most local people did not seem worried about this, and the Civil Defence and military sites were out of earshot. It was also used for a time to clear the buildings on the occasion of a bomb-warning. All were hoaxes, and nearly all were from the same man. Some contractors sacked him from working on the site and when he saw college concerts advertised he reached for his telephone (or so it appeared). They of course laid a trap, and he fell into it!

Another Ampleforth Abbey Fire Squad helmet in yellow.

The fire squad acquired a job lot from New York’s fire brigade when they were replacing theirs. The helmets were made of plastic and offer little protection compared to modern equivalents. A small fire squad sticker was attached. The monks looked after their equipment and so this helmet was damaged at some point after it finished service with them.

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