Posts Tagged ‘fire brigade’

Market Lavington Fire Brigade

April 20, 2012

One of the most altered parts of Market Lavington is the Market Place. There’s not a thing, in the picture below, which still remains today. In fact today, where these old buildings stood you find bungalows built in about 1960. Here we look back to the time when there was a fire station. Sadly, we don’t have an accurate date for this photo. It is probably from the 1940s, perhaps during World War II.

Outside Market Lavington Fire Station in about 1940

The fire appliance itself appears to be a small covered lorry. It has a ladder on the roof, a bright, roof mounted lamp and a bell, which in past times was all that was needed to warn other road users to move out of the way. The lorry has a towed trailer, which may be the pump mechanism, for delivering water onto a fire.

The men, all of them volunteers, stand outside the fire station in this clearly posed photo.

Market Lavington Museum has just been given a small bureau, which was used as a desk in the fire station. A display of fire station and engine memorabilia is on show in and around this bureau for the new season.

The Bradford on Avon Fire Brigade

February 23, 2012

Our friends at the Bradford on Avon Museum have recently given us a copy of this image, having realised that the picture was taken in Market Lavington.

Bradford on Avon Fire Brigade on a 1914 visit to Market Lavington. The image can be seen in both of these Wiltshire Museums

We, at Market Lavington, instantly recognise the location for the very familiar shape of The Green Dragon can be seen behind the coach and four.

The people are not familiar to us, being members of the Bradford on Avon (near Bath) Fire Brigade. Below is their caption for the photo.

Here the volunteer firemen are seen on an outing on a four-horse charabanc, outside The Green Dragon public house in Market Lavington, about as far as such a vehicle could go and get back, leaving time for a beer or two and lunch. The occasion was in summer of 1914, not long before the Great War broke out.

We can add that the photo was taken by Alf Burgess who had premises on High Street, near the Co-op. He’d have had an eye to the main chance – with so many visitors, he was bound to make sales.

How good that, almost 100 years ago, Market Lavington was a destination for outings. The Green Dragon, of course, is still there and still makes a fine venue for outings, meals or just a quiet pint or a mug of coffee.

We do hope Bradford on Avon was not left without fire cover whilst these men were enjoying the hospitality of Market Lavington.

Paying for the fire brigade in 1892.

January 28, 2012

This pay sheet, for a couple of fires, is an interesting, if not fully understood document at Market Lavington Museum.

Pay sheet for men attending two Market Lavington fires in 1892

Here we see a list of the men who dealt with blazes at ‘W Brown’s’ and at ‘W P Bouverie’s’. Sadly we know nothing of the nature of the fires or just where they occurred.

It would seem that the sergeant who attended the fires received three shillings and his men got two shillings each. In addition, some of those who attended, and some others, received shares. Just what they were is one of the things we’d like to clarify.

The people either entitled to money, or receiving it at these two fires were:-

Sergeant James Gye
Sergeant Robert Bevis (It is not clear whether he actually attended the fires)
James Hiscock
William Merritt
John H Merritt junior
John H Merritt
J Cooper (Jacob?)
S Coleman (Samuel)
Alfred Smith
John Plank
J Topp (Joseph?) (It is not clear whether he actually attended the fires)
J Hussey (James?) (It is not clear whether he actually attended the fires)

Marjorie remembers the Market Lavington fire engine

January 10, 2011

The following piece was sent to the museum by Marjorie, the daughter of Reginald Milsom who designed the local fire engine. Residents of the new housing on Milsom Court might like to know that their area of the village is named after Reginald.


There were no fire engines in villages when I was a girl in Wiltshire the 1930s. When I was about 10 years old, my father Reginald Milsom built the first fire engine for Market Lavington. Father was a motor engineer and owned the garage and taxi company in Church Street opposite the village church. In 1935, at the age of 14 years old, I left school and joined him in the business, collecting my overalls from Robert Kemp in The Brittox in Devizes. I stayed with him for 16 years, working with the men and learning the trade. We collected and delivered cars for repair in a 10-mile area, as at that time there were few garages, or cars, around.

In 1929 the only fire appliance in the village was a tender, which had to be towed behind a lorry, and my father used to stand on the back stoking the boiler when racing to a fire. But one day the tender hit the curb and it turned over. After my father recovered from his injuries, the Council asked him to build the village a motorised replacement fire engine, which he did. The village of Mere had recently acquired a new fire engine so my father went over and copied the design, then built it to those specifications. The fire engine was a great success and served the village and surrounding villages well for over 20 year years. It was housed in The Fire Station in the Market Place. The photograph below shows my father at the wheel of the fire engine.

Mr Milson drives the fire engine he designed and built - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

There were no roadside stopcocks to supply water, so the water had to be taken from rivers and streams – hence the large basket on the rear of the engine, which filtered all the mud from the water. The firemen sat back to back on the long box running down the centre in which all the hoses were stored. It was manned by a very enthusiastic crew of volunteers, all local men who were very proud to be called the village firemen – they did a great job. The church verger Mr Tom Merritt was the Captain, and his two sons Alf Merritt and Jack Merritt were also in the team, the others being Fred Perry, Alan “Shuner” Baker, Cecil Baker, Jim Hurkett, Albert Potter and driver Dicky Burt. The following photograph shows the crew in uniform:

The Market Lavington Fire Brigade in uniform

The fire engine was kept in service for many years until the time came when the government nationalised the Fire Service. Lavington then came under Devizes and OUR fire engine was no longer needed. When the fire engine was broken up, Ben Baker of Market Lavington made a gate-legged table using wood from the old fire engine. I still have this table today in my flat. My father died in 1960 aged 72, but I am sure the number of villagers who remember his contribution to the safety of the village are very few.

Marjorie (nee Milsom) Salisbury, August 2009

The Easterton Fire Engine

October 9, 2010

How lovely it would be to have the real thing; how lovely it would be to have the space to have the real thing. But the fire brigade authorities hold the old Easterton Fire Engine in store. We believe the fire engine dates from around 1870.

Back in 1875, Easterton church was opened. A Victorian fair was held to celebrate the centenary of this event. As far as we know, that was the last time the engine appeared in Easterton and we have photos of the engine at this event in 1975.

The Easterton Fire Engine in 1975 - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

Here we see the engine and can get some idea of how it worked. It was man powered, both to pull it along, using the handle at bottom left and then to pump water, using the larger handles on the engine. The metal ‘ball’ on top contains air, which gets compressed when the pump is used. This compressed air keeps the water flowing between strokes of the pump.

People in the fire engine photo. Do you recognise them?

Does anyone recognise the ‘Victorian’ ladies and child at this event?

The engine was provided by Ben Hayward of The Kestrels in Easterton. In 1895 it was bequeathed by him, to the parish.

In 1975, there was colour photography and another image shows the fire engine in colour.

Easterton Fire Engine in colour - another photo at Market Lavington Museum

Colour rendition was not always good back in 1975 but it was the very dry year that preceded the drought of 1976 so maybe the grass was very yellow.

Lavington Action Stations in 1942

July 7, 2010

This is a request for help, maybe from older folks in the parish with a memory of world war two. ‘Lavington Action Stations’ were the local fire brigade, but what was The Rendell Cup for – what did the Market Lavington men do to win it? If you can help then please contact the curator, either with a comment on this blog or by email.

The winning team were captured in this photograph, which we have in Market Lavington Museum.

Lavington Action Stations in 1942 - a photo at Market Lavington Museum.

The photo is captioned

Photo Caption

And the team are named as well.

The names of the team that won the Rendell Cup

The team were Leading Fireman A. Burt,  A. Baker, C. Baker, A. J. Merritt and J. Hurkett. Of course, we’d love to know more about these men as well.