Search This Blog

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

An ancient Fire Engine

This fire engine has recently gone back on display at Lyme Regis Museum; it was one of the original exhibits when the Museum first opened in the 1920s. The engine was probably made in the late 18th century, and was in regular use in Lyme for about a century. Fire engines of this type were really portable pumps: they sucked water either directly or from the tank at the back, and the pump pressurized the water so that an even jet of water was produced through the leather hose. The tank itself could be filled either by buckets or a suction pipe.

The old fire engine was finally replaced in 1889, shortly after it had given a poor performance at a bad fire in Broad Street. Newspaper reports after the fire were highly critical of the council’s continued use of such an antiquated engine. The papers claimed that the Bishop of Salisbury, who was staying in the town at the time, had been forced to play the hero and help out with the fire-fighting. Other accounts, however, suggest that the Bishop merely got in the way. One local person remembered a fireman having to drive the Bishop off a ladder, saying “If thee doesn’t come down from this ladder we’ll put the hose on ye!”

No comments: