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The following pages contain a short history to Commemorate fifty years of fire fighting from
The Mounts Fire Station. spanning five decades from 1935 to 1985.
 It is an insight into the growth of a new exciting era to an established fifty year old landmark of

 A story of a building which graces the skyline, easily identified by strangers travelling over
The Mounts and pointed out with pride by the local people.

The photographs and extracts shown are from the D. E. Wilson “Northampton Against Fire”

It was only possible to complete this Book on “50th Anniversary of The Mounts Fire Station”
with the help and cooperation of all the people who have lent me photographs etc, and have
given vital information which helped build up a picture of life in and around the Fire Station and
the Fire Service in which I have enjoyed a full. varied and interesting life. I am indebted to a
great. many people for their help in identifying photographs and other points of interest.

  In particular I world like to thank my sponsors. Saab Great Britain Ltd., for making this book

  Thanks also to the following for allowing the use and copying of photographs, pictures and

Northampton Chronicle & Echo and The Alan Burrnan                       Collection.   Photograph
Nos.1,3,4,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18. 19,20,21,22,23,24.

Northampton Borough Council. . Town Coat of Arms.
George Marks Northants Post. Photograph No. 25.
Northamptonshire Public Libraries, Extracts and documents pages 2,3,6,7,8,14, 15, 16, 17.
Victor Hatley. Photograph No 2
Sun Alliance Insurance Group. Sun Fire Mark and Sun Fireman,
Pages 12, 13.
Henry Cooper (Beedle & Cooper) Photographs 5, 6,7, 22.
In addition I would like to thank my wife Wendy for her help in preparing this book.

 All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the
National Fire Service Benevolent Fund
                            Northampton Against Fire
On September 20th 1675, Northampton was struck by a disaster which destroyed a large part of
the town. A fire which was accidentally started on the west side of the town quickly spread in an
easterly direction consuming everything combustible in its path.
   At this time, most of the properties were of timber construction, many having thatched roofs and,
as the buildings were so close together separated only by narrow alleyways, there were very few
natural breaks to prevent the fire from spreading. Even the Market Square was stacked high with tim-
ber and materials for the building of a new Courthouse.
   With autumn in the air, the local townsfolk and businessmen were stocking up with goods and ne-
cessities to see them through the winter, Once the fire gathered momentum, fanned by a strong west
wind, there was nothing to stop it until it burnt itself out. When the costs were counted, the damage
was estimated at £150,000(1) and about 600 houses were destroyed, leaving nearly 700 families
homeless. Only 8 people died in the disaster (2) and it is amazing that so few lost their lives consid-
ering the speed and ferocity of the fire. However nearly three-quarters of the town was destroyed in
the blaze, for, as the fire ran its destructive course, the people were so taken by surprise that very lit-
tle firefighting was undertaken.
    There were various types of equipment available in the 17th century which, if compared to today's
technical standards, appear very primitive. Besides the fire engine, ladders, buckets, fire hooks,
scoops or shovels and even gunpowder was used.
    The ladders were of a single extension only, to reach the fire and to effect rescues. Fire buckets
were a very essential part of fire fighting at the time, and as water often had to he carried for some
distance to the fire. human chains were formed and the buckets passed from hand to hand along the
line to the burning building.

   (1) Kelly's Directory of Northamptonshire. 1910 page 151.
   (2) The Fire of Northampton by Northampton Public Library, pages 18 and 23..
The early type of fire bucket was constructed of riveted leather, shaped wide at the bottom and
narrow at the top. The narrow neck was designed especially to prevent water being lost by spill-
age over the rim of the bucket as it. was passed from hand to hand on its way to the fire. Many
fire buckets quite often had the initials of the owner painted on them and many were kept in
prominent places in the town such as All Saints Church, until 1619 when according to the
Northampton Borough Records (3), a clause was passed in favour of them being placed in the
Parish Church of each bucket owner. A fine example of fire buckets and other early fire fighting
equipment can be seen In the Leather Museum in Bridge Street. and in the Abington Park Mu-
seum. Northampton.
                            Northampton Against Fire
    Fire hooks were constructed of long heavy poles made of wood, varying in length from
twenty to thirty five feet. An iron hook was attached to one end, bolted or bound with iron straps
O     n September 20th 1675, fixed to the pole struck by of the hook, through which was passed
to the pole. An iron loop was Northampton wasat the base a disaster which destroyed a large part
a strong rope or chain, the poles were then raised to allow the hook to fail over the ridge of a
of the town. A fire which was accidentally started on the west side of the town quickly spread in
building. By the use of manpower pulling or dragging on the ropes, or horses attached to the
an easterly direction consuming everything combustible in its path.
chains for greater strength, the building could be pulled down, thus creating a fire break to pre-
   At this time, most of the properties were of timber construction, many having thatched roofs
vent the fire from spreading. Brooms were handy and could be used for beating out the flames,
and, as the buildings were so close together separated only by narrow alleyways, there were
axes were a useful implement for cutting away burning areas and helping create fire breaks. The
very few natural breaks to prevent the fire from spreading. Even the Market Square was stacked
scoops or shovels available could be used for throwing earth or mud onto the fire, or to remove
high with timber and materials for the building of a new Courthouse.
burning debris. On a few occasions gunpowder proved to be very effective for demolishing a
   With autumn in the air, the local townsfolk and businessmen were stocking up with goods and
building or buildings down wind of the fire, which would again create a fire break and check the
necessities to see them through the winter, Once the fire gathered momentum, fanned by a
travel of the flames. What appeared to be a large garden syringe about two feet long was in fact
strong west wind, there was nothing to stop it until it burnt itself out. When the costs were
a fire squirt. These squirts were capable of holding about half a gallon 2.5 litres of water and
counted, the damage was estimated at £150,000(1) and about 600 houses were destroyed, leav-
when aimed at the fire the jet gave it a limited striking range, but the squirt needed to be fre-
ing nearly 700 families homeless. Only 8 people died in the disaster (2) and it is amazing that
quently refilled. Later fire squirts were mounted on maneuverable metal frames which had a
so few lost their lives considering the speed and ferocity’ of the Lire. However nearly three-
built-in reservoir. Once these were filled and primed and the reservoirs kept full, the jet would
quarters of the town was destroyed in the blaze, for, as the fire ran its destructive course, the
be continuous although intermittent due to the single-action valve assembly.
people were so taken by surprise that very little firefighting was undertaken.
    Fire engines of that period were capable of holding a few gallons of water by means of a tank
    There were various types of equipment available in the 17th century which, if compared to
or trough at one or either end of the engine. By pumping a pair of levers/handles set on either
today's technical standards, appear very primitive. Besides the fire engine, ladders, buckets, fire
side of the machine, the water could he pumped from the reservoir, through a
hooks, scoops or shovels and even gunpowder was used.
    The ladders were of a single extension only, to reach the fire and to effect rescues. Fire buck-
ets were a very essential part of fire fighting at the time, and as water often had to he carried for
    (3) Records of Northampton Borough, Volume II, Book No.3425210 by F. C. Cox.
some distance to the fire. human chains were formed and the buckets passed from hand to hand
along the line to the burning building. The early type of fire bucket was constructed of riveted

   (1) Kelly's Directory of Northamptonshire. 1910 page 151.
   (2)      The Fire of Northampton by Northampton Public Library, pages 18 and 23..
17th Century fire fighting equipment

1 Fire Bucket
2 Fire Axe
3 Water squirts
4 Fire hook
branchpipe and nozzle fixed to the top of the appliance, and directed onto the fire. However. in
the case of the great fire of Northampton, any attempt at fire fighting proved negative, for the
flames spread so quickly that even if buildings were demolished to slow its path of destruction.
it made little impression on the inferno.
“Nothing less than the opening of windows in Heaven could have quenched the rage” (4) and it
can be wisely’ said that “Had it rained all day the town might have been saved” (5).
       As with any disaster, a common bond was formed amongst the townsfolk and the more
fortunate people took some of the poor families into their homes until relief came from sources
outside the town.
       Fortunately, the Guildhall of Northampton was spared from the great fire, and it was here
that, on September 27th 1675. the assembly met and a committee for the relief of the distressed
was set up to provide wooden shelters for the poor. Some of the more enterprising tradesmen set
up timber sheds to serve as shops until more permanent arrangements could be made. However,
on October 15th, the assembly agreed ‘‘that all sheds built in the body of this towne be covered
slatt tvle or bords, and none be suffered to be covered with straw” (6).
       A lesson had been learnt at some considerable Cost and early fire prevention was now to
he practised,
In November 1675. the Earl of Northampton. who as Recorder of the Borough at the time, ob-
tained an Act of Parliament “For the better and more easier rebuilding the town of Northamp-
ton’’ (7).
A Court of judicature was formed to see that all the houses were rebuilt in accordance with the
new regulations, which included the abolishing of thatched roofs, The Court also decided on
compensation for ground which was to be taken tip for the widening of the new streets, and set-
tled any disputes that arose regarding boundaries.
£150,000 had to he raised for the rebuilding programme and money poured into the town from
many sources. King Charles II supplied one thousand tons of timber from Whittlebury and Sal-
cey, which were both Royal forests and also returned seven years chimney tax levied on chim-
neys from 1662 until 1689, The chimney money was also known as the hearth tax, and all resi-
dents were required to pay two shillings per hearth, unless they were in receipt of poor relief or
lived in houses worth less than twenty shillings per annum. The Parish constable compiled a list
of householders and numbers of hearths, and this was given to the justices of the Peace at
Michaelmas and Lady Days (8)

(4-5) The Fire of Northampton, Northampton Public Library Page 9.
(6) Records of Northampton Borough. Volume 2, by J. C. Cox. page 245.
(7) Records of Northampton Borough. Volume 2. by J. C. Cox, page 246.
(8) The Local historians encyclopaedia, page 68, by John Richardson
A 17th century fire engine restored and maintained by Daventry firemen
A further £25,000 was raised by subscription and money was voluntarily contributed by many
worthy benefactors ranging from the landed gentry to places as far as York City. Every penny
was welcomed, from the two pounds donated by Yardlev Gobion, to the five thousand pounds
Approximately from London City. It is interesting to note that even Oxford University supplied
four hundred and fifty pounds. A full table of the, benefactors can be seen in the Northampton
Borough records.
       And so the new town began to rise from the ashes. A plaque to commemorate the first
houses to be rebuilt after the fire can be seen just below the eaves between the two windows on
number one Abington Street.
        A map (9,10) dated 1610, by John Speed. shows Northampton as it was before the great
fire and this can be compared with the map of 1746 by Messrs. Noble and Butlin, which shows
the town after the rebuilding, with the main streets leading from All Saints Church now wide
and spacious.
        Daniel Defoe was so impressed with the splendour of the new town, on his tour of Great
Britain in 1738, that he wrote ‘‘I now come to Northampton, the handsomest town in all this
part of England, but here. as at Warwick the beauty of it is owing to its disaster”. (10a)

(9&10)     Northampton Public Libraries.
(10a)      Defoe’s Tour Trough Great Britain, pages 363, 364. Ref’ Northampton Library.
                                       Fire Marks
During the following twenty years, very little progress was made in organizing the fight against
fire. People had little or no protection when fire befell them and in general had to fend for them-
selves. Those who could afford it paid the fire insurance but the claims to the companies for fire
damage were considerable, due to lack of sufficient fire fighting equipment and the construction
of the buildings.
       Towards the end of the 1600’s, the insurance companies began to realise how costly fire
damage was becoming and set about the serious business of forming their own defences against
fire. They began to form their own private brigades, employing between 15 and 30 men each.
Equipment was supplied, consisting of buckets, hatchets, fire hooks and at least one engine. The
firemen were dressed in the livery of their company’s own design and colour, with the company
insignia on the arm of the fire tunic, as seen in the photograph. The fire insurance companies
provided an acceptable way of forming an insurance contract between the company and client,
by the use of fire marks which varied in shape and size. The majority were brightly coloured,
either in red or gold on a black or dark blue background. Each mark bore the company’s insignia
and these were displayed on a building between the first and ground floor window to signify that
the property was insured by them and thus enabling the company’s fire brigade to recognise
their own insignia as their risk, allowing them the right of entry to fight the fire and salvage the
contents and property where the need arose.
       Another of the purposes served by marking insured buildings with these fire marks was to
prevent fraud, as up to the early 19th century house numbering and Street naming was uncom-
mon, particularly in outlying districts. A fire mark prevented companies from being cheated, as
one company” The Friendly Society stated in a 1684 regulation ‘To prevent any fraud in getting
any policy by indirect means after a house is burnt, no house is to be deemed a safe house till
the mark hath been actually fixed thereon’’. They also helped to guard against looting and van-
dalism and it is a recorded fact that in 1780 Lord George Gordon led the mob which marched on
the Houses of Parliament for the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act.
The Pheonix,
Sun and County Fire Marks which can
be seen locally

 The march degenerated into the week long destructive Gordon Riots but the mobs left prop-
 erties bearing fire marks generally undamaged for fear of reprisals from the insurers. One of
 the. earliest known fire marks was a picture of a phoenix rising from the flames. The com-
 pany was formed in 1680 by Nicholas Barbon and was called the Fire Office or Insurance
  The Phoenix mark could be seen on the Shipmans Hotel in the Drapery, Northampton until
 1982 when it was removed as the building was being renovated, There is also evidence of the
 following prominent fire marks which exist in Northampton today.
   The Sun fire mark is still in existence locally. According to the Guildhall Museum. London,
 the policy registers are missing, but from the number under the fire mark it can be established
 that it was issued in the first half of 1784. possibly to the land owner, at that time was John
 Harvey Thursbv. Junior.
  The county fire mark which is shown on the photograph, is without numbers and would not
have been issued into well into the 1800s, as policy numbers disappeared from the fire marks in
later years.
  The Imperial Mark is another example of a fire mark found in and around Northampton.
  As the post office expanded and became more efficient, property and streets became better
identified and the need for a fire mark to single out an insured property began to dwindle. The
practice of issuing fire marks began to diminish between 1860 and 1880.
Note the engine house top left, centre of plan. This was possibly the forerunner of Dychurch
Lane Fire Station which was to serve the Town until 1935
                     Northampton’s First Fire Brigade
During   1864, Northampton formed its first fire brigade manned                by    volunteer
firemen under the direction of Mr. Richard Phipps. Several letters were published in the
Northampton Herald prior to April 1864 requesting that a new fire brigade be formed.
One such letter dated January 14th 1864, read….
     To the Editor of the Northampton Herald.
     Sir, although comparatively a stranger in your town. I take the liberty of addressing
     you as to the desirability of having some such body as the above established, to be self
     supporting, i.e. each member to provide his own helmet and uniform (the authorities
     providing the engine only). The brigade to be summoned to their duties by a fire hell
     being rung from All Saints, for one hour’s practice every month, say on the first
     Monday in the in month, and other regulations that to more experienced heads would
     suggest. The truly alarming nature of fires we have had lately call loudly for the
     establishment of something of the kind at once, and from the capital spirit
     existing among the young men of the town, I am satisfied a sufficient number to work
     efficiently one of the new engines we are promised would he readily be found. My
     own duties are numerous and somewhat important, but, for one, I would always
     forego them night or day to save life or property from the cruel element.
     Trusting more able hands will take the case up,
     I am Sir. your obedient servant.
     J. H. ROBERTS (10)

     (Mr. Roberts was a chemist and dentist of 4 Mercers Row, Northampton).

 Other suggestions were put forward that the brigade be limited to thirty men, and that rules
be drawn up and election of officers take place. Volunteers were asked to forward their
names to the newly appointed secretary of the fire brigade, Mr. Charles Parker.

     (10) Northampton Public: Libraries .
Pages from a volunteer fireman’s handbook—Northampton Library
  A rule book was drawn up and extracts from a revised edition are as follows:

1—–The Northampton Volunteer Fire Brigade to consist of thirty effective members,
   inclusive of officer. The officers to be, one captain, two inspectors, two engineers,

2—–That the subscriptions of effective members be ten shillings per annum, paid quarterly in
   advance viz, March 25th, June 24th, September 20th, December 25th.

3—–Every member shall provide himself with the uniform of the brigade within one month of
   his joining.

4—– Any complaints made against a member shall be referred to the committee, who shall have
    the power to dismiss or fine such member in any sum not less than sixpence or more than
    five shillings.

The moment the alarm is given, wherever it may be, will repair to the spot with all possible
speed, and take command of the force when there. He will be responsible for the general con-
duct of the inspectors, engineers and firemen, under his charge.

On the alarm of fire, will hasten to the engine station and assist in taking the hosecart and engine
to the fire. He will obtain men to pump, to take their names, keep an account of the time they are
at work, and not permit idlers to interfere or impede. He will receive orders from and make re-
ports to the captain. His post is at the engine unless other orders are given him. In the absence of
the captain, he will take command of the brigade. He is responsible that everything required is
taken. ..hydrant standpipe, canvas cistern etc., and that the engine is in working order.

The plugman will accompany the horsemen, his duty is to fix the hydrant to the water main,
then attach the hose and turn on the water, and attach the short hose and swan necks to the can-
vas cistern when required. He must remain by the hydrant to regulate the supply of water by or-
der of the engineer or firemen directing the branch.

No fireman should enter alone any premises on fire, for should he be overpowered by heat,
smoke etc., his life might be lost, when with others, he may be easily drawn back by his leather
belt or by a rope attached to the same, when he may safely enter other places which otherwise
would be attended with extreme danger. Rooms when on fire should always be entered on the
hands and knees, the engineer taking the branchpipe with him, and his assistant, the sub engi-
neer, assisting him in pulling up the hose.
                                            MERRYWEATHER & otherwise
                        when he may safely enter other places which SONS’ would be at-
                         PATENT extreme danger. Rooms STEAM FIRE ENGINE “VOLUNTEER No1
           IMPROVEDtended with SINGLE CYLINDERwhen on fire should always be en-
                        tered on the hands and knees, the engineer taking the branchpipe with
                                                  (Illustrated on Page 20)
                        him, and his assistant, the sub engineer, assisting him in pulling up the
      This class of Steam Fire Engine is made in one size only, and answers to the general specifications
given on page 2. It is used in country towns and by Volunteer Fire Brigades. Being extremely light, and
mounted on extra high wheels with broad tyres it is well adapted for running across country districts over the
roughest roads, when required. It is made to fit the “ruts” of a country road. The following Fire Brigades have
adopted this design of Engine:- Liverpool, Hanley, Coventry, Alton, Burslem, Twickenham, Langholm, Bourne,
Richmond, Ashford, Northampton, Windsor, Appleby.
      Upwards of half-a-dozen of the above Engines are in use by the Eastern Railway in France, and several
by the Western Railways, of that country. It was by one of these Engines that Saint Chapelle was saved from
destruction by fire during the temporary Communist supremacy in Paris in 1872.
      A light class Steam Fire Engine of this size was used at Hendon continuously for three days, pumping
water through one line of hose a mile in length, led over a hill 80 feet high.
      At a fire at Blisworth, January 4th, 1879, such an Engine forced water to a fire, working for five hours
without intermission through 500 yards of hose, up a hill 90 feet high.
      By means of “dividing breeching” this Engine will pump three or four jets of water simultaneously.
      This Engine is supplied without Hose Bunkers, Driving Seat, Pole & Sway Bars, but with Drag-Handle
for men only, at £10 less.
        New Steam Fire Engine for Northampton.– The Volunteer Fire Brigade for Northampton have just acquired a “Merryweather”
Steam Fire Engine and considerable interest was evinced in the public display which too place on Tuesday last. Immediately on the arri-
val of the engine by train, horses were attached and, and after being galloped round the town it was set to work.
Steam was raised to a working pressure of 100 lb. in seven minutes, and a powerful single jets of 1¾ in. and 1 in were respectively
thrown. Two and four jets were afterwards discharged at one time. The quantity of water delivered was over 300 gallons per minute, a
height of 160 ft being reached. This engine is very light, weighing only about 21 cwt, and being on high wheels is very easy in transit, and
can be drawn by hand or horse. For long distances two horses, can be attached. The mechanism is on the direct-acting principle which
Messrs, Merryweather have adopted, and which has proved so successful in the many engines which they have now supplied to impor-
tant cities throughout the world. The duty is performed easily without running at a high rate of piston speed. An injector as well as a feed
pump are provided, and a brake is fitted with handle close to the driver. The cost , complete with all the tools and appurtenances, and
ready for working, is but, small, being under £400, and places such engines within the reach of every town or district. The local authori-
ties were well represented at the trial, and were highly gratified with the result, a strong feeling being expressed that the town now pos-
sessed an engine of ample power for its requirements or indeed for the requirements of a larger town, capable of equalling in continuous
working five of the most powerful brigade manual engines with 7 in. pumps, the duty of which is so much reduced after the first few min-
utes, pumpers’ energy soon flagging, notwithstanding frequent “refreshers.” .Engineering Nov. 1st 1878.
        The Steam Fire Engine.– The new Steam Fire Engine, lately arrived in Northampton, has undergone a severe test, and has not
been found wanting. At Messrs. Westley’s fire, the other day, it behaved itself in an exemplary manner, and the whole brigade are very
pleased with it, and hope it will be the means of saving valuable property for many years to come. The working of the engine is excellent,
and Messrs. Merryweather (the makers) are to be congratulated on the success they have achieved.- Midland Counties Herald, Jan. 4th
                                                                                                   PRICE LIST
                                 PATENT SINGLE-CYLINDER STEAM FIRE ENGINE- “VOLUNTEER” (NO 1).

                                             Capable of                       Dimensions                 Best strong copper           Best patent woven canvas
                                 Working   throwing a jet           Weight    for shipment            riveted leather delivery     delivery hose, per 100 ft length,    Best strong     Gun-metal          Packing and
          Capable of pumping                to the height   Price                (about)            hose, per 40 ft length, with    with couplings, leather guards,    India-rubber   swivel coupling   Delivering at docks
                                   jet                              (about)
                                                  of                                               screws, handloops and straps          and straps complete           suction hose     screws for          in London
                                                                                                              complete                                                                 suction hose
                                                                                                                                    1             2                3

          260 gals, per Minute   160 ft        1 in.        £400    20 cwt.   9 ft. 8 in. x 5 ft             £8 10s                     £8     £7 5s          £6       8s per foot    28s per pair          £8 10s
                                                                                 2 in. X 6 ft

     The following articles are included with each Engine:-Injector with Tank complete, Pressure Gauges,
Feed Pump, Feed from Main Pump, one Copper Suction Strainer, Four Copper Branch Pipes (two long and
two short), two Supports for Branch Pipes, six Gun-metal Nozzles, four Lamps with strong Reflectors, Water
Bags for wheels, Engine Hose and Suction Wrenches, Shifting Wrench, Stoking Irons, Oil Can, Valve Facings
and Gauge Glasses, Pole and Sway Bars for horses, complete, without Suction and delivery Hoses.
     Printed Instructions for working and keeping Steam Fire Engines in order are sent with each Engine.
     Extra for improved Lever Brake to act on both hind wheels, £10
                                                                    For Testimonials, see Pages 29 to 32

                                                                    Specifications for the ‘Volunteer No 1
The want of coolness and presence of mind at a fire is by far the greatest hindrance to the pres-
ervation of life and property. A few simple directions observed by the inmates and bystanders,
will in a great measure, tend to make persons more discreet, and their efforts more successful in
the hour of danger. Once the alarm has been sounded, a runner or messenger, usually a police-
man or policemen would be dispatched to call out the fire brigade personnel who would, de-
pending on their ranks or duties, make haste to the engine house to make ready the equipment
and in the event of the fire being a long way away, make preparations for the horses to be har-
nessed (ll).
  Up to late 1885, the fire engine and fire escape etc. were kept at any convenient place in the
town where permission would be granted, but in September 1885, at a meeting of the town
council recommendations were made that the fire escape be kept at the rear of the Town Hall
and the town surveyor was instructed to prepare plans showing the position thereof.

                        Northampton’s early steam fire engine about 1878

                                 (11) Northampton Public Library.
    In 1878 a new fire engine was purchased partly by subscription and partly by a grant. The
new fire engine, a steamer called the "Volunteer N 0. 1" made by Merryweather & Sons, was
purchased for £400 and was capable of pumping 260 gallons of water per minute and throwing a
jet 160 feet into the air. The machine weighed about 20 cwt. and was drawn by horses, an ad-
vanced design as the makers quoted. ..'Being extremely light and mounted on extra high wheels
with broad tyres, it is made to fit the ruts of a country road'.
   During 1886, a request was made for electric bells to be installed in the residence of each
member of the volunteer firemen, with the object in mind that not only would it speed up re-
sponse to fire calls but would relieve the messengers who were usually policemen, to perform
their normal duties. The estimated cost for installing the bells was £85.00. The town council re-
ported that they did not think there was an absolute necessity for the bells and the request was
turned down. Not until two years later were call bells installed in the firemen' s houses.
   In January 1894, in his fifth annual report, Superintendent Jones states that the number of fire
calls had been sixty eight; two false alarms, twenty eight chimney fires and thirty eight fires of
which nine resulted in serious damage. The resulting cost of fires inside the Borough amounted
to £11,847 and outside the Borough £6,115.
   On Saturday 16th February 1895, Maidwell Hall caught fire and the new powerful steamer
was despatched with all haste. Quote "The newly appointed Inspector Mr. William Frost, pro-
ceeded on the engine and made all haste along the road, which were in a most treacherous con-
dition, and the eleven miles were covered in the hour and a half. On the arrival of the engine,
which is capable of throwing three hundred and fifty gallons of water per minute, it was imme-
diately taken to the edge of the pond, the ice broken, the suction pipe placed in the hole, the two
deliveries attached, the hose run out and attached, and in the course of less than five minutes In-
spector Frost and one of the firemen were directing copious supplies of water from two branches
onto the burning pile. The marked difference between the work of the Northampton/Market Har-
borough engines ( although of course the latter is only a manual) was largely commented on,
and caused many remarks of admiration. Inspector Frost, who it must be said, plainly exhibited
his skill as a fireman, and his fitness for the position in which he had been placed, first directed
his attention to the northern corner of the building, as Deputy Captain Flint of the Market Har-
borough Brigade had been doing, and the great force of water brought to bear from the two
branches showed signs of effect. Notwithstanding their
efforts, the Hall was burnt down. Estimated cost of the damage was between £1,800.00 and
    On May 7th 1888 it was proposed that the fire brigade be taken over by the police and run by
them as a Police/fire Brigade. This was implemented later that year. When the transition took
place, the town fire brigade was to be discontinued and the men were given six months notice.
four full time fire brigade personnel were to be kept on. These were one superintendent or in-
spector who was to act as brigade instructor, one engineer, one assistant engineer and one fire-
man. The pay for the latter four men was estimated at. ..
      Superintendent or Inspector/Instructor……………..42/6 per week
      Engineer…………………………………………….32/- per week
      Assistant Engineer………………………………….28/- per week
      fireman……………………………………………...27/- per week
These paid personnel above were to reside at or near the engine house. In later years many of
the firemen were to live in Dychurch Lane, The Riding, Wood Street and other nearby streets.
One such fireman was Mr. Christopher Mumford of 45 The Riding, Northampton.
    The strength of the new Police/fire Brigade was 29 men. Besides the four above personnel
were the Chief Constable Mr. Frederick H.Mardlin, two sergeants and twenty two police consta-
bles. The new superintendent of the fire brigade, Mr. John W. Jones, was selected from a short
list of three. Mr. J ones was to commence his duties as soon as he could be released from his
present employment with the Newcastle - Upon Tyne fire Brigade. Superintendent Jones stayed
with the Northampton fire Brigade until early 1894.
     In 1891, a second steamer was purchased which now brought the brigade equipment up to:
two steam fire engines, two manual fire engines, two hand pumps, three hose carts, one tender,
one fire escape, nineteen long ladders, forty lengths of canvas hose and seventeen lengths of
leather hose.
    During August 1910, Northampton was to witness the arrival of its first motorised fire en-
gine, a “Hatfield Petrol Motor fire Engine” built by Messrs. Merryweather & Sons. The ma-
chine, a fifty three h.p. four cylinder motor with a fire pump, was capable of delivering four
hundred and fifty gallons of water per minute. The equipment carried on the machine comprised
of 1500 feet of hose, standpipes etc. and two hand held extinguishers for dealing with small out-
breaks of fire.
    fully laden and with twelve men on board, a speed of 35 mph was attainable. Both gong and
horn were fitted, the former for sounding
the alarm when proceeding to a fire (see footnote).
  Carried on top of the machine was a 32 foot extending ladder. The machine was christened at
the fire station by the Mayor Alderman H. Butterfield. The Mayor removed the Union Jack from
the fire engine revealing the brass nameplate declaring it to be the T. L. Wright Engine (after the
Chairman of the Watch Committee Councillor T. L. Wright).

   It was to be a great step in the history of the fire brigade for no longer would horses be needed
to pull the steamer. The new engine would travel faster oh the level or any gradient even carry-
ing twelve men. Best of all however, it was able to pump water as soon as it arrived at a fire
without having to get up steam which on some occasions would take up to nine minutes.
   The machine was run up to the Market Square to be put on show to the public and to go
through a few tests. Within two minutes of getting to work, two 7/8” jets were registering 140
lbs per square inch pressure on the pump. The jets were reaching 190 feet into the air. Later a
larger 1¼ jet was substituted for the two jets and the larger jet reached 200 feet.
                       The T L Wright, 1910
Northampton's first motor fire appliance, a Hatfield, christened the "T L Wright" after Council-
lor T L Wright, Chairman of the Watch Committee. The gentleman in the foreground is Mr. Pil-
grim, the driver is possibly Mr. William Ashton an engineer.
The gong which was fitted to the T. L. Wright engine, was in later years removed from the fire
engine and installed inside one of the pole towers at first floor level, with an attached rope lead-
ing down to the appliance room. This was then used as an emergency alarm in the event of a
power failure with the normal alarm system. The gong was in situ at The Mounts Fire Station
right up to 1983 and still in working order. The gong has now been removed and mounted on a
plinth and is on show in the reception area of South Division Headquarters.
Inside Dychurch Lane Fire Station about 1897
Members of Northampton Fire Brigade, October 1910
A fire call from the Dychurch Lane Fire Station late 1920s
                                     Private Fire Brigades

   The Private Fire Brigades of Northampton have, through the years, played a very important
part in the history of “Northampton Against Fire”. On many occasions, fires which would nor-
mally have to wait until the Town Brigade arrived, have been promptly tackled by firemen from
the Private Fire Brigades such as British Timken, Express Lift Co. or St. Crispin's Hospital etc.
   In 1911 an association was formed and called the Northampton Private Fire Brigades Asso-
ciation. It was formed by some six industrial concerns in the Borough of Northampton and pre-
sided over by Sir John Mansfield, with Charles Purser as the first secretary. The six original
firms were Messrs. Dover Ltd., Mr. F. Bostock, Mr. G. T. Hawkins, Messrs. C. &1. Lewis &
Sons, and Mr. J. H. Marlow. These were later joined by the other brigades of Mansfield & Son,
British Chrome Tanning Co., Smith, Major & Stevens, Crockett & J ones, Padmore & Barnes
and J .Sears. These were then to become the Affiliated Brigades of Northampton.
   In 1924, all industrial firms were invited to become members, after which the organization
became known as the Northampton Town& County Private Fire Brigades Association, which
name it was to keep for many years.

   The first Private Fire Brigade competitions were held in 1918 at Franklins Gardens, St James,
Northampton, and with the exception of the four war years, have been held annually since. The
first trophy presented to the Association was a hose cart, given by Councillor Trenery and is still
used in competitions. As years passed, many other industrial concerns joined the Association
and took part in the annual competitions, to which more trophies were given by such firms as
Trenery, British Chrome Tanning Co. , Bostrom, Manfields & Hawkins.
The Association has come a long way since those far-off days at the turn of the century and like
the Town Fire Brigade, has now more specialised equipment to use and more important, has
many more dangerous chemicals to contend with.
    In the early years, the Chief Constable Mr. Mardlin who was Director of Northampton Fire
Brigade, took a lively interest in the Private Fire Brigade in encouraging employers to find uni-
forms for their firemen, with the result that many of them were then properly uniformed and
equipped. On Mr. Mardlin's recommendation, the Town Council recognised the value of the As-
sociation by insuring them against accidents at fires and supplied them with an official badge.
   As Director of type Borough Fire Brigade, the Chief Constable also entrusted to the" care of
the Association four hose carts and equipment which were placed in various parts of the town in
readiness of fires.
   Many of the original Private Fire Brigades no longer exist as, through the passage of time,
firms have ceased to stay in production, moved out of town or amalgamated with larger compa-
However, a few of the larger companies still retain their own fire brigade and now belong to the
Northampton Town and County Works Private Fire Brigade Association.
   The firms belonging to this Association are as follows: Bostrom Ltd., British Steel Corby,
British Timken Northampton, British Timken Daventry, Express Lift Co., Ford Daventry, Pi-
anoforte Supplies Roade, St. Crispins Hospital Duston.
       Fireman Christopher Mumford of 45 The Ridings, Northampton
The Ridings along with several other streets had firemen’s house with the sign
                      “Fireman” above the front door
The Old Dychurch Lane Fire Station
   By 1935, the population of Northampton with its expanding industry had increased
to such an extent that it was evident the old fire station in Dychurch Lane could no
longer cope with the greater fire risks. A completely self-contained station was
needed which was capable of housing several fire engines and accommodating its of-
ficers and men. With this idea, Messrs. J. C. Prestwich & Sons of Leigh, Lancs., were
commissioned to draw up the plans.
   It was to be built on the site of Northampton's old prison which was situated in the
Upper Mounts and at 3 pm on July 30th 1935, the new Northampton Fire Station was
officially opened by Mr. A. L. Dixon CB C BE. It was one of the finest modern fire
stations in the country.
The front of the Fire Station in 1935. The height of the biulding is
sixty seven feet,with a concrete yard at the back leading through to
Robert Street

                         The Engine Room

                                          Single Men’s DiningRoom

                                The Control Room
   Part of the yard is covered by a cantilever glass roof where the appliances are washed and
cleaned out. In the centre of the yard stands a tower which is sixty-five feet high, the rear inner
half of the tower is rigged with ropes and pulleys which haul aloft the hoses for drying.

                            Inside of tower showing hoses drying.
The front half of the tower is used for drilling and training the Firemen and with mock rescues
and ladder work. There is also an underground tank, twenty seven feet deep set into Robert Street
side of the yard, which is used to test the pumping efficiency of the fire engines and for practice
drills and also for training the firemen as pump operators. The tank is fed by the town mains and
any water used in the tower for wet drills is returned to the underground tank via a set of collect-
ing drains.

                         Live rescue drill being carried out from the tower.
    Inside the fire station on the ground floor, is the watch room and the appliance room, with a
fully equipped workshop adjoining, used for running repairs on the engines to keep them fully
functional. Originally, the appliance room also had under floor heating in the form of a heated
panel under each engine radiator, to enable easy starting at any time of the year.
   The firemen on duty would attend the watch room on a rota system and on receipt of a 999
call, would be responsible for sounding the general alarm. Alarm bells were installed in every
room in the building on all floors, including the bedrooms and personnel flats.
This enabled the firemen on the long night shift to rest but still be available to turn out quickly
at the sound of the general alarm. This alarm would simultaneously open the front doors of the
station and illuminate all rooms and the station yard after dark. The clocks throughout the build-
ing were electrically operated and controlled from a master clock in the watch room. As each
engine departed to an emergency call, the time was recorded by an electrical device attached to
the rear of the engine and logged in the watch room.
   The first floor is occupied by a kitchen, canteen, sixteen bedrooms and a reading/recreation
room for the firemen on duty.

                 Appliance room, approximately 1940, showing mezzanine floor.
   A mezzanine floor which overlook the appliance room, ran between the first floor and the
ground floor and this also provided a rest room with adjoining shower room and toilets.
   There were four sliding poles leading from the first floor to the appliance room. The pole which
ran from the mezzanine is no longer in existence but the two poles from the balcony and the one
from the canteen still remain.
   The three floors above the first were used as self contained flats for the married men. These
consisted of a living room, kitchen, bathroom and three bedrooms. Three of the flats used by offi-
cers and their families had an extra lounge. The laundry rooms with washing and drying facilities,
which were housed on two floors, were available to all the occupants of the flats.
   Sliding poles were also staggered from each of these floors to the ground floor, enabling the
firemen quick access from the top floor of the building to the appliance room.

    Northampton's first Leyland Limousine fire engine. Approximate year of manufacture 1940.

 At the time the new station first opened, the Fire Service came under the direction of Mr. John
 Williamson who was the Chief Constable of the Northampton Police Force. There were three ex-
 isting fire engines consisting of one Dennis motor engine with a pumping capacity of 250 gallons
 per minute, one Leyland motor engine with a pumping capacity of 400 gallons per minute and
 one Leyland motor engine with a pumping capacity of 700 gallons per minute. This latter was
 also fitted with a sixty foot water tower fire escape.
   In 1937 , the Air Raid Precautions Act was passed which made local authorities responsible
for the protection of persons and property in their own communities, in the event of a hostile
attack from the air. Mr. J. Williamson became A. R. P. Controller in Northampton.

                                              Royal and official smiles for one of the casual-
                                              ties at a demonstration by members of the
                                              Northampton AFS which was watched by the
                                              Duchess of Gloucester (right) who is seen here
                                              with the ARP Controller (Mr John Williamson)

    H.R..H. The Duchess of Gloucester with Mr. J Williamson talking to a member of the
 local A.FS. during a demonstration at the fire station.
1880 Born, Kirby Thore
1910 Joined Newcastle City Police
1924   Succeeded Chief Constable Mardlin
       (was Director of Fire Brigade)
1937   Became responsible for Air Raid Precautions in Northampton. Awarded O.B.E. same year
1941   Appointed A. R. P. Controller
1949   Inclusion of Mr. Williamson as Companion of the Order of the British Empire
   During the life of the National Fire Service, Mr. Williamson purchased a new Leyland/Metz
turntable ladder pictured below.
   The vehicle would normally have had four ladder sections extending to one hundred feet. Un-
fortunately, constructed to the original specifications at a cost quoted at £3,625.00, it would not
have fitted into the appliance room bay, so an alternative quote of £3,695.00 was given to build
a shorter five section ladder and this was then purchased.
  Alongside the turntable ladder is a toy car made by the Northampton National Fire Service
personnel during stand by.


                                   The Leyland/Metz turntable ladder.
                                        (David & Goliath)
  With the outbreak of war in 1939, the fire station took on several roles. A spotters hut was
placed on the east side of the roof and carved into the coping stones surrounding the hut are the
divisions of the compass, used possibly for spotting enemy aircraft direction.

                  Spotters hut on the fire station roof This hut is still in existence.

   During the war, bomb shelters were built on both sides of the front of the fire station. The air
raid siren which was situated on the roof was controlled and activated from the watch room.
   In 1941, the Auxiliary Fire Service was followed by the National fire Service whose brigade
headquarters were at the Mounts Fire Station. Seen over are photographs taken in 1944 of some
National Fire Service personnel with the mobile dam units stationed at the fire station during the
National Fire Service personnel with mobile Dam Unit
                   1942 despatch rider Amy Watts. (9,D, 3,Z)
NFS prefixes— No 9 Fire Force, D Division, Sub Division 3, Station Z (Northampton)
                    Air raid siren
                    which is controlled locally
                    from the fire station

Rear view of Northampton Fire Station—1943
Left 1943—Northampton’s fire boat “Maid of the Mist” built and manned by Northampton
firemen and stationed at South Bridge, possible to protect the timber yards in the event of a
hostile attack from the air.
Right: “V” Day celebrations at the Fire Station Northampton in June 1946
                                    County Borough of
                                 Northampton Fire Brigade

  The fire service in Northampton now had a new official title and became known as the County
Borough of Northampton Fire Brigade.
  With the introduction of the Fire Services Act on 31st July 1947, the Fire Brigade became the
responsibility of the Council of the Northampton County Borough. As it no longer came under
the direction of the Chief Constable, Mr. Williamson, a new Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Arthur
Spence was appointed in 1948. Mr. Spence held that position until his retirement in 1955.

                              Northampton Fire Brigade cap badge.
                             CHIEF OFFICER A. H. SPENCE

1890       Born Kettering Northants
1914       Joined Northampton Borough Police Force
1926       Promoted to Sergeant with Fire Brigade duties
1933       Promoted to Inspector Promoted to Chief Inspector
1939       Promoted to Superintendent (an entirely new office) of Borough Fire Brigade. The
           first Fire Brigade Superintendent also awarded the B.E. M. for gallantry when tack
           ling a burning munitions lorry
1942       Selected for a portrait sitting for the National Gallery as a representative of the
           National Fire Service
1948       Transferred from the Borough Police to Northampton Fire Brigade on its return to
           the local authority in line with the 1947 Fire Services Act.
1950       Received the Kings Police and Fire Services Medal.

  Following the retirement from the Fire Service in 1955 of the Chief Officer Mr. A. Spence,
Mr .J. Wier was promoted to the rank of Chief Officer and held that position until his death in
Annual inspection of the Northampton Fire Brigade by H.M. Inspector of Fire Brigades
S. H. Charters Esq., O.B.E. (front centre) on 22nd February 1951. Left is Mr A. Spence Chief
Fire Officer, 2nd left the Mayor Alderman C. Chown

Fire at Raphael Tuck’s Factory Northampton. Left to right, Chief Fire Officer J. H. Wier.
                    Station Officer E. Buchenfeld. Fireman V. Wills.
1916   Born Newcastle- Upon - Tyne
1936   Joined Northampton Fire Brigade as 3rd Engineer
1939   Acting Sergeant with Borough Police and promoted to
       Third officer in the borough Fire Brigade
1941   Appointed Column Officer in the National Fire Service
1944   Promoted to Operational Staff Officer at Fire Service Headquarters, Nottingham
1948   Returned to Northampton Fire Brigade as Deputy Chief
       Officer when Fire Brigades were handed back to local authorities
1955   Succeeded Mr. A. H. Spence as Chief Officer of Northampton Fire Brigade
1956   Received the Queens Medal for exemplary service
1957   Became Chief Ambulance Officer for Northampton
1960   Received M.B.E.
1971   Presented with 35 years long service award
   In October 1957 , the Northampton Ambulance Service came to be based at Northampton
Fire Station under the control of Chief Fire Officer Mr. J. H. Wier. Photograph of ambulances
and fire engines in Station Yard. Fire engines from top to bottom are, Leyland/Metz turntable
ladder, Dennis/Rolls pump escape, Dennis/Rolls major pump N 0. 1, Thorneycroft water tender,
Bedford TK. water tender, Leyland Limousine major pump No. 2.

                        Northampton Fire Brigade Ambulances and Fire Appliances
  An indicator board with the initials of emergency appliances that were required, would be
  illuminated when the general alarm was sounded.

A          Ambulance
PE         Pump Escape
P1         Major Pump No. 1
TL         Turntable Ladder
WT 1       Water Tender No. 1
RT/WT      Rescue Tender and Water Tender together
RT         Rescue Tender
WT 2       Water Tender No.2

Indicator boards shown above were placed at convenient positions in the bedroom corridor, can-
teen, billiards room and appliance room, situated so that the firemen could see which machines
were required as they were running to answer the general alarm call. .
1963—A drill involving new equipment used for test for radiation.
             L to R. Fm J. Imrie. Fm D. Wilson
   A fireman's prime duty is to save life, sometimes not only human life. On May 4th 1967 , sev-
eral bullocks were stuck in the mud in the River Nene area. Northampton Fire Brigade were
called out to help and were consequently awarded a Certificate of Merit for Humanitarian Ser-
vices. A similar award was given for Operation Starling in 1962 when hundreds of starlings
trapped in a building were released by the Fire Brigade.
1967 Merryweather Turntable Ladder
    In 1967, Northampton took delivery of a new special appliance. The new vehicle, a
Merryweather l00 foot turntable ladder was purchased for £12,600.00. Although the machine
was still only capable of extending to the same length as the one it was replacing, it had the ad-
vantage of an enclosed cab which would protect the men in bad weather and many more up to
date refinements such as the console control panel and seat which the operator could sit on and
revolve with the turntable instead of walking round the rear of the machine as the turntable re-
volved. During the same year plans were afoot to change the fire engines from the original red
livery to a new yellow colour. This was part of a national experimental policy to try various'
colours and their effectiveness. Other Brigades tried
unpainted aluminium with white and fluorescent paint. The yellow coloured fire engines were
to stay with us until 1972 when the appliances were re-sprayed back to the old red colour.
   1972 was to be a sad year for the Northampton Fire Brigade as Chief Officer Jimmy Wier
died whilst on holiday in Majorca. Mr. Wier was 56 years old. Mr. A. T. Howes was promoted
to Chief Fire Officer and held the rank until the amalgamation of Northampton and Northamp-
tonshire Fire Brigades in 1974. Mr. N. Mountford then became Chief Officer of the new
Northamptonshire Fire Brigade.
                 CHIEF OFFICER A. T. HOWES
                 1917 Born Northampton
           April 1946 Joined Northampton Fire Brigade
                 1960 Leading Fireman- Northampton
                 1960 Sub Officer- Northampton
                 1963 Station Officer- Northampton
                 1966 Assistant Divisional Officer
                 1969 Appointed Deputy Chief Officer
                1972 Appointed Chief Officer with ambulance responsibilities

Chief Officer A.T. Howes (right) with Alderman K Pearson (centre) and H.M. Inspector of Fire
Brigades Mr. Frame on an annual inspection at Northampton Fire Station
  1971 Bedford Rescue Tender

1972 Dennis Water Tender Ladder
                        Northamptonshire Fire Brigade

                        The Northamptonshire Fire Brigade cap badge.

   Prior to the amalgamation of the two Brigades, the establishment of Northampton Fire
Brigade, including civilians and day staff, was approximately 70 persons. After 1st April 1974
the Northamptonshire Fire Brigade had an establishment of 509 persons including retained
firemen and civilians. A new larger Brigade which covered an area from Aynho, south of
Brackley to Easton on the Hill, north of Oundle. The area contained 21 stations which were di-
vided into A and B Divisions with A Division containing 12 stations and B Division 9 stations.
Many of the stations were retained (by part-time firemen) or day manning stations (fully
manned from 0900 hrs. to 1800 hrs. daily and then by retained firemen for the rest of the pe-
riod). As Northampton Fire Station was the largest and most central of all the stations, soon
after the amalgamation in 1974, Brigade Headquarters moved in at The Mounts until Moulton
Fire Station was completed and later a new Headquarters was built at the rear of the New Fire
   The Brigade moved forward in many directions and changes were constantly taking place. The
control room at H. Q was undergoing a change which would take the Brigade into the future with
computers. Instead of telephone messages being written in long hand and entered into log books,
fire calls are received and are typed straight onto a VDU via a keyboard. Once the location and
type etc. and the pre- determined turnout has been verified, the message is sent to Northampton via
a teleprinter with all the relevant details and normal turnout from the station proceeds.


When the need for the Fire Brigade arises, various methods of calling out the Brigade may be
adopted. These main methods are: Running Call-999 Telephone -Automatic Fire Alarms.

If a fire is discovered close at hand to the fire station by a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist etc., he or
she may call directly into the fire station and tell the person on duty the whereabouts and type of
When 999 is dialled in an emergency for a request to the Fire Brigade, the call is monitored by a
supervisor, time logged and noted for reference, and is connected direct to the Fire Brigade control,
who in turn take all the details needed for dealing with the call.
An automatic fire alarm is a device which detects an outbreak of fire on premises by means of a circuit
which is broken by excess heat or smoke. This triggers off the fire alarm and alerts the occupiers or Fire
  When a call has been received, information is sent via the teleprinter and the officer in charge of each
appliance attending the incident would receive a copy of the incident printout.

1    INCD NO 6542 DATE 28/11/84 TOC 1937                  CALLER 32391             NPTON

2    ADDRESS>NUNN MILLS RD                          3 DB/ADR)NUNN MILLS RD

      >BEDFORD RD                                         >BEDFORD RD

4    >CENTRAL                      *                      >CENTRAL
5    >NORTHAMPTON                                         > NORTHAMPTON

7     >2ND        FLR                               STN GND B1

8    >3 PERSONS REPORTED                            DAY NUM           333 FDR NO -

9    >{1 D 3}

I0    TYPE HMI EXERCIZE                             LAST APP RTD AT         ON 28/11/84

II   STN C/SIGN         ALRT       MOB         RDRS       OFFICER-IN-CHARGE           INAT      RETD

12         B12          1938       1940        5          STN O KAYE    1944             2120
           B13          1938       1940        4          LFM CORCORAN                   2124
           B16          1938       1942        2          LFM LOWE      1947             2129
           A93          1950       1951        6          LFM CAHILL    2001             2126
13         A102         1950       1953        5          LFM NASH      2022             2135
           B98          1950       1952        1          FM WEATHERALL 2007             2136
           B92          1950       1952        5          SUB O FRUISH   1954            2137
           B23          2008       2008        6          SUB O COLEMAN  2016            2124
1    INCD Incident
     TOC Time of Call
2    DB/ ADA Data Base/ Address (for computer use)
3    Street or Road etc.
4    Area
5    Town
6    GEN'INFO General information of building involved
7    Floor involved and Fire Station prefix No.
8    Number of persons reported missing, day number
     FDR. Fire Report No.
9    ID3 Map Reference No.
10   Type of incident (in this incident it was an exercise for Her Majesty's Inspector of Fire
     Brigades which occurs in every Brigade annually
     Last appliance returned at. ..
11   STN. Station
     C/SIGN. Radio Call Sign
     ALRT. Time Alerted
     MOB. Time Mobilized
     RDRS. Number of Riders
     INAT. Time in attendance at incident
     RETD. Time returned
12   B l 2 (B) South Division appliance Radio Call Sign
13   A10-2 (A) North Division appliance Radio Call Sign
                               IMPROVED FIREFIGHTING METHODS

As the Fire Brigade progressed, so the methods and equipment for fire fighting improved. New
types of fire pump were being built that could give a sustained flow of water of 1,000 gallons
( 4,500 litres) per minute. The machines now carry multi-stage centrifugal pumps with auto-
matic priming devices fitted. These will lift water from a river or lake etc, simply by engaging
a power take off (PTO) unit from the engine to the pump and setting the correct engine revs.
   The hose, which carries the water to the fire, has advanced from a leather studded hose,
through to an unlined canvas hose which allowed water to percolate through onto a dining
room carpet, to a new type of rubber lined, rubber covered hose.
   This latest hose does not need to be hung up to dry. After use, it is tested to 10 bars (150 lbs/
sq. in.) pressure, scrubbed clean and rolled up to be used again immediately if required.
   The branches or branch pipes which deliver the water were originally fitted with a screw-
threaded fixed nozzle of various size which could be changed. Today, branches are of a type
that have a variable nozzle from 1 in. (28 mm) down to shut-off either by using a lever or twist
grip valve. Also a revolving collar at the front of the branch will give a complete curtain of
spray or simulated fog, or if needed, a jet and spray together. Hose reels have improved to such
an extent that most small fires and those that are contained into one or two rooms, can be ex-
tinguished by the new type of high pressure hose reel. The fire pump is capable of switching
from normal hose to high pressure hose and can deliver up to 20 bars pressure (1 bar= 14.7 lbs.
per sq. in.). The inside diameter of the hose reel is only a fraction of the normal hose and al-
lows a greater striking power. This makes fire fighting much more effective and efficient. An-
other major aspect of the high pressure hose is that less water is wasted due to the difference in
the jet of a normal hose, up to l in./28 mm, and the jet of the hose reel which is 1 1/8 in./6.5
mm: The supply of water carried on the fire engine is 400 gallons (1,800 litres). Normal hose
will use up the supply in a few minutes but a hose reel will last up to 20 minutes. This gives
the pump operator and men outside, time to set into a hydrant or other supply. Bearing in mind
that a fireman' s prime duty is to save life, a tremendous amount of work is now carried out in
rescue operations. Much sophisticated equipment is now used for cutting people out of
wrecked cars or trapped under fallen debris and even for releasing little children with heads or
hands stuck between railings or pipes etc.
     The following equipment is carried on the tenders for rescue:

Compressed air-driven saws and chisels used for cutting into light metal e. g. cars, lorries and
A hand operated hydraulic ram with attachments used for spreading crushed and twisted metal.
The attachments consist of alligator jaws for prising open wreckage where a person' s limbs
may be trapped and extension pieces which can be used for shoring up, lifting, pushing or
spreading the collapsed roof of a car or lorry.
These are operated by com pressed air via a series of valves and gauges and will lift several tons
a few centimetres, which is quite often enough to extricate someone who is pinned underneath.
   Other types of equipment carried for rescue purposes are power driven cutting discs ( electri-
cal from the vehicle), acetylene cutting equipment, automatic resuscitators, and special stretch-
ers (paraguard) which hold a person with damaged limbs or back, completely rigid and immo-
bile. Portable generators for lighting and power, pulleys and winching gear, and numerous other
items which may be used for rescue, are also carried.

                                         Rescue tender
Chemicals are another major problem which firemen are now faced with. So complex are the
types and quantity of chemicals transported and used today, that they are a world hazard. Some
chemicals are so dangerous that no known protection is available against them. Over the past
few years, new rules and regulations have been brought in to cover this problem. Nowadays, a
vehicle which carries any hazardous load, must display its type of chemical, details of contact
point in the event of spillage, and various other information required by law. This is known as
Haz/Chem Code (Hazardous Chemicals Code).
   By working with this code, anyone involved with an accident or spillage of chemicals will
know what action to take. They will know where to get further information on the load carried,
protective clothing if needed, and whether it may be toxic, explosive or corrosive if water or any
other agent is to be used on it Also there will be information on how to contain or dilute it.
Many problems arise with spillage or accidents with chemicals and with this in mind the Haz/
Chem Code was developed for the protection of all persons involved.
   The protective gear for firemen range from normal fire fighting clothing with breathing appa-
ratus, to plastic or rubber splash suits and completely gas-tight rubber suits which are worn with
breathing apparatus and will allow no chemical or toxic fumes to penetrate to
the wearer. Once a chemical incident is involved a situation call "Decontamination" is set up.
This follows different stages of the operation, where every person is logged in and out of the in-
cident, the chemical involved is checked with its maker or suppliers for details on how to deal
with it and, after the incident, the firemen involved are washed/ cleaned down or are decontami-
nated. If necessary they are sent to hospital for a check-up with all the relevant details of the
chemicals involved.
                                      Recruiting and Training
To qualify for an appointment with the Fire Brigade, the applicant must be of good character and
have at tamed the age of 18 years, but be under the age of 31 years.
   In the case of a person having undertaken a fixed period of voluntary service in the regular
armed forces of the Crown in any part of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and has
completed that service, the upper age limit is 35 years.
   The applicant must not be less than 1.68 metres in height and have a chest measurement of not
less than 91 centimetres when unexpanded, with an expansion of not less than 5 centimetres.
Also a medical practitioner selected by the Fire Authority must be satisfied that he or she is fit to
undertake fire-fighting duties.
   The applicant has to pass a test of strength by being able to carry a person weighing 63.5 and
76.2 kilograms a distance of 91.44 metres in a time not exceeding 60 seconds.
   He or she shall have passed such examinations in educational subjects as the Fire Authority
may require in an ability range test.
   Once accepted, a recruit will be given one weeks induction course which is normally run by
headquarters training staff. The object of the course is to familiarise the recruit with all the various
equipment which is carried and used by the Brigade. This week' s course will also give as much
background knowledge as possible which gives the recruit a good start in the next phase of train-
   During this first week, undress uniform will be issued along with personal fire fighting clothing
which consists of fire boots, protective waterproof leggings, fire tunic and helmet.
   Training is carried out on a residential course away from the Brigade normally at the West Mid-
land Fire Service Training School, Coventry. The course is of 3 months duration, during which
time the basic skills of fire fighting are covered, including the wearing of breathing apparatus. At
intervals during the 3 months, the recruit's progress is monitored and on completion of the course
a copy of the progress is sent to the County Fire Officer. The Brigade Training Officer will also
visit the Training Centre during the course and discuss the progress.
    Subject to satisfactory progress at all stages throughout the course, a recruit will receive notifi-
cation at which station he or she will be sent to. On completion of the training course and being
sent to a station, a probationary term then begins. The term is 12 months and only after satisfac-
tory completion of this 12 months probation, will the Brigade confirm the employment During
this period the recruit will complete the basic training as a member of the watch.
   After approximately 3 months, an initial probationary test will take place, an intermediate test
after 6 months and the final probationary test will take place in the eleventh month of service.
Confirmation of the appointment is received after satisfactory completion of the probationary
The recruit will be expected to have attained and maintained a good standard of knowledge of fire
service drills and equipment, be able to demonstrate their use and he or she must be able to under-
stand and use fire service radio, lines which may be used for rescue, and be able to demonstrate
and tie correctly, fire service knots. The recruit must participate in any situation drill as a member
of the watch and carry out this or her duties as a fire fighter competently and professionally.
For promotion to the rank of Leading Fireman, the qualification of a member of the Brigade re-
quired is not less than 2 years operational service and must pass the specified examinations.
  For promotion to the rank of Sub Officer, a member of the Brigade shall have not less than 4
years operational service and pass the specified examinations.
   For promotion to the rank of Station Officer, a member of the Brigade shall have not less than
5 years operational service and pass the specific examinations. Further promotions are by inter-
view and appointment.

                              Rank Markings of the Fire Service
                             COUNTY FIRE OFFICER
                  NEVILLE C. MOUNTFORD M.B.E., QF.S.M., F.I.FIRE E.
Born in Chichester
1937    Joined City of Chester Fire Brigade
1938    Transferred to Epsom and Ewell Fire Brigade, Surrey
1940    Appointed Deputy Chief Officer of Uckfield Rural District Fire Brigade
1941    Appointed Column Officer NFS by South Eastern Board
1943    Promoted to Divisional Officer NFS
1946    Appointed to Sub Area Commander No. 30 Fire Force Kent NFS
1948       Appointed to command D. Div. Kent Fire Brigade with Rank of Div. Officer Grade 2
1952       Appointed to command D. Div. Kent Fire Brigade with Rank of Div. Officer Grade 2
1953       Appointed Third Officer with Preston, Lancs.
1959       Appointed Deputy Chief Officer, Hampshire Fire Brigade
1973       Appointed Chief Officer, Northamptonshire Fire Brigade
Appointed as County Fire Officer Designate of the new
Northamptonshire Fire Brigade (which included the former Northampton Fire Brigade) until April
1st 1974 when he became County Fire Officer

                                 Chief Office Neville Mountford
                             Q.F.S.M. (Queens Fire Service Medal)
                     F. I. FIRE E. (Fellow of the Institute of Fire Engineers)
1930   Born Newcastle Upon Tyne
1955   Joined Newcastle and Gateshead Fire Brigade
1961   Promoted to Leading Fireman, serving at Durham
1962   Promoted to Sub Officer
1964   Promoted to Station Officer
1966   Transferred to Hampshire, promoted to Assistant Divisional Officer
1968   Transferred to Lincolnshire, promoted to Deputy Chief Officer
1970   Transferred to Northamptonshire Fire Brigade
1975   Promoted to County Fire Officer, Northamptonshire Fire Brigade

1935 Born in Wigan
1955 Joined Wigan County Borough Fire Brigade
1963 Promoted to Sub Officer, transferred to St. Helens County Borough Fire Brigade
1964 Promoted to Station Officer
1965 Transferred to Staffordshire County Borough Fire Brigade
1968 Promoted to Assistant Divisional Officer
1971 Promoted to Assistant Divisional Officer Grade III
       Awarded Queens Commendation for brave conduct for his part in a rescue
1974 Transferred to Northamptonshire Fire Brigade. Promoted to Divisional Officer Grade I
1982 Promoted to Deputy Chief Officer
1985 Promoted to County Fire Officer
 Chief Officer Arthur Steele

Chief Officer Harry Haddock
    In 1979 a 42 hour week was introduced into the Fire Service and a new watch was formed
named Green watch, to Cover the rota which now exists of nine-hour days and fifteen-hour
nights, followed by leave days. A new addition to the Fire Station to aid emergency calls was
the Evade system (Emergency Vehicle Aid Detection Equipment) introduced in August 1979.
This was a device fitted to the top of an appliance which threw a signal to a corresponding de-
vice fitted near a set of traffic lights allowing a change in the sequence of the lights to green in
time for the appliance to cross safely on its way to an incident
   This system was phased out during the early 1980' s in favour of the "Green wave System"
which is currently operated from the Fire Station: When the address of the incident is verified,
the main road route (ie St Peter’s Way, Barrack Road or York Road) is selected on a panel
linked to a computer which in turn changes the lights to green at a pre-determined time before
the appliance reaches them.
    Structurally there have been only a few minor changes to the Northampton Fire Station since
it was built A lift has been added at the rear to serve alternate floors and the old coke-fired boil-
ers have now been changed to gas-fired. The watch room no longer receives 999 calls although
a 999 telephone line direct to the GPO is situated on the outside wall of the Fire Station near the
front door, for the use of the general public.
   The high cost of maintaining the ageing building and the transfer of Brigade Headquarters
and control to Moulton have made many of the original features obsolete. The under floor heat-
ing is no longer needed as the modern vehicles perform from cold in all of this country's weather
   The doors no longer open automatically but are operated manually and the device which reg-
istered the time a vehicle turned out from the Station was disconnected many years ago.
1976/77 Simon Snorkel Hydraulic Platform
                 1984/5 appliances in appliance room Northampton Fire Station

   How much longer the Fire Station on The Mounts will function as a Fire Station must be a
matter of speculation, for the trend is to build smaller stations which are cheaper to run and
maintain and can cover the growth of Northampton, allowing the appliances to reach their desti-
nation in the specified time. However, whatever the future dictates for The Mounts Fire Station,
for the past fifty years it has served the community of Northampton proudly. It has been a place
where hundreds of men and women have dedicated their working lives and countless thousands
of emergency calls have been answered with its front doors opening to send its fire engines
speeding on their way.