Posts Tagged ‘fire engine’

The fire engine jack

November 8, 2015

The nature of a fire engine means that even an old wooden wheeled Merewether engine has weight. Of necessity, there is a hefty pump on board. After all, pumping water onto a fire has long been a function of the fire engine. So if, for any reason, a wheel needs attention, the engine has to be jacked up. The jack from the old engine is something of an unlikely survivor. And here it is.

Market Lavington fire engine jack dating from about 1890

Market Lavington fire engine jack dating from about 1890

This is nearly all wooden in construction. There is a stand and a long lever which pivots around a sturdy metal pin, the height of which can be adjusted. This end of the lever has a leather top and could be placed under the frame of the fire engine. A collection of strong men could then push down on the other end of the lever to raise a wheel off the ground.

The jack dates from around 1890. Both wooden parts have a mark of ownership stamped into them. This is on the lever.


Both wooden parts have this mark stamped into them

At a guess it stands for Lavington District Fire Engine. The same mark is on the stand.

What a lovely item – a survivor from the Victorian era.


The Easterton Fire Engine

September 26, 2014

This wonderful old fire pump has featured before on this blog, but it seemed like time to give it another airing – using a photo previously unused – and here it is.

Easterton's Victorian fire pump - last seen in the village in 1975

Easterton’s Victorian fire pump – last seen in the village in 1975

This device was, at first, the Market Lavington and Easterton fire fighting machine, but it became the property of Easterton and found a home in a cave dug out near the village pump and actually under the grounds of the former jam factory. It was a simple enough device, and would have been effective provided it was near enough to a source of water.

Getting the pump to where it was needed required man power. The pulling handle, attached to the small front wheel, can be seen on the right of the picture. Once in place and with hoses connected, men – perhaps up to three on each handle, could operate the pump so that the fire could be doused with water.

At the end of each stroke of the pump handles, the pump action inevitably had to stop and this might have led to a jerky flow of water. However, the pump is equipped with a pressure smoother. It’s that bubble thing on top. When a handle was pushed down, some of the water went into the bubble and compressed the air in it. That compressed air kept the water flowing whilst the handles were temporarily still.

This fire engine was preserved by the Wiltshire Fire Service. We do not have it at Market Lavington Museum. It had been brought to Easterton as part of the church centenary celebrations in the 1970s.

It had been kept at the fire service museum in Potterne, but that has closed and we do not know where our old engine is now. Neither are we certain of the age of the old engine but maybe somebody out there can help us.

Market Lavington Fire Brigade in 1942

February 25, 2014

We have recently been given a photo of the fire brigade. The caption is a model of perfection. But first, the photo.

Market Lavington fire brigade in 1942

Market Lavington fire brigade in 1942

The photograph was taken in the Market Place and shows the men, smartly attired, standing alongside the fire engine, already an appliance of some antiquity. It was Market Lavington’s first motorised fire engine. And now the caption.


Wonderful information has come with this photo

Wonderful information has come with this photo

With that information there isn’t a lot to add. You can read more about Mr Reg Milsom and the fire engine by clicking here.

We can come up with a few biographical details for some of the men.

The chief, Tom Merritt, was born around 1884 so he was approaching 60 when this photo was taken. In 1905 he married Agnes Shore and Alf, their first born arrived the following year.

Allan and Cecil Baker were brothers, sons of George and Eliza. Both were born in the first decade of the 20th century.

Albert Potter was the son of Frank. The Potters had a farm on High Street, near the Green Dragon. Alf was born in about 1909.

It’s a lovely picture and we’d like to thank Diane for giving it to the museum.

The Market Lavington Fire Engine in 1920

December 17, 2012

Marjorie (née) Milsom wrote the paragraph below – a part of her memories of the fire service in the village.

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 kerb 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.

But today we predate Marjorie’s memory with a picture of the fire engine in about 1920. It may have been the same appliance, but back then horse power was used. Regrettably, it isn’t the best photo we have.

Market Lavington fire engine and crew in about 1920

Market Lavington fire engine and crew in about 1920

As we can see, some of the crew have all but faded away in this picture which, we assume, was not taken on active service. There is certainly someone very youthful at the back. Another regret is that none of the people are named so yet again we appeal for help.

But despite our lack of information we still think this is a charming image of the way things were 90 or so years ago.