Southend Fire Brigade
Southend-on-Sea
When the local board was formed, the only fire appliances for Southend were at Rochford. The Board inaugurated Southend fire brigade in 1875, In May 1877 a shop was rented in Market Place just off Alexandra Street for storing the awaiting new fire engine. In September 1877 the town’s first fire engine arrived, it was a second-hand appliance costing £80. It was met by a procession headed by the town band and taken opposite the Ship Hotel where there were fireworks and a bonfire. Volunteers who formed the new fire brigade, Messrs. Belcham, Brewer, Berry, Storey, Appleby and F. J. Woosnam, were given helmets, tunics and belts by the Board. The first fire the brigade attended was at Young’s shop opposite the post office in the High Street, in March 1887. The horses to draw the engine were kept at Scott’s stables and when a fire occurred at Stambridge Mills in 1878, a man was sent to Rochford post office where a message was telegraphed to Southend post office who got in touch with the fire brigade. The firemen got to the fire just within forty five minutes later, which was good going in those days, and although there was a terrific blaze, they were able to save a large part of the mills. In 1891 the first electric call system was installed, but difficulty of communications in was still a problem. On 2nd of October 1892, a great fire started in Leigh old town. By this time the town had a new steam fire engine, bought by subscription called “The Alert.” The fire started at the Peter Boat when a lamp overturned. The fire practically destroyed the Peter Boat, the Red House and Carey’s house was badly damaged. The Fire Station, Tylers Avenue, opened on 15th October 1902; its erection having cost £3,500. The Main building was a red brick building of striking elevation, comprising of accommodation for the engines and escapes on the first floor, with men’s recreation room, kitchen, and sleeping quarters on the second, There were two steam fire engines always ready for service and manned by volunteers. In 1908 the local brigade won the national shield for steamer drill at the annual meeting of the National Fire Brigade Union at Scarborough.

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Fire fighting near Francis & Sons Printers on the High Street, Southend
Fire fighting, using a steam appliance in Southend
c1909 Southend Fire Station, Tylers Avenue, Southend
Southend Central Fire Station, Sutton Road, Southend-on-Sea 25th September 1964: Southend Central Fire Station in Sutton Road opened. Mr H. M. Smith CBE MIFireE, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire Services performed the official opening ceremony. The ceremony included a full drill of the Southend Fire personnel accompanied by the Band of the London Fire Brigade. The Official Opening Ceremony; 2:50pm: Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire Services Mr H. M. Smith, Official Party and Guests will arrive at the Central Fire brigade Station. His Worship the mayor will call upon the Chairman of the Fire Brigade Sub- committee Alderman Norman Clarke, to invite Her Majesty's Chief Inspector to unveil a commemorative plaque in the station vestibule. Official Party will be conducted to dais in the drill area. The Mayor will welcome Mr H. M. Smith and request him to formally declare the Fire Brigade Station open. The Chairman of the Fire brigade Sub-Committee will move a vote of thanks. Display by members of the Fire Brigade with their appliances. God save the Queen. Arrangements will be announced for the inspection of the Fire brigade Station. Music by the Band of the London Fire Brigade.
Leigh Fire Station, Mountdale Gardens, Leigh-on-Sea 28th March 1969: Leigh Fire Station in Mountdale Gardens, Leigh-on-Sea, was formally opened by Mr A. J. Frame MBE, Her Majesty's Inspector of Fire Services. The site was formally the 18th-19th century Brickhouse Farm. A location that was deemed suitable for preservation in 1961, but was turned down. This long awaited modern fire station would serve the west side of the borough replacing the old fire station in Elm Road. The first Leigh Fire Station was built as part of the old Urban District Council Offices scheme, and opened in May 1912. It had accommodation on the ground floor for combined fire engine and escape, and above was a spacious recreation room, with caretaker’s quarters. The Official Opening Ceremony; 2:50pm: Her majesty's Inspector of Fire Services Mr A. J. Frame, Official party and Guests will arrive at the Leigh Fire Station. His Worship the Mayor will call upon the Chairman of the Fire and Public Supervisory Services Committee Alderman Norman Clarke to invite her Majesty's Inspector to unveil a commemorative plaque in the station Entrance Hall. Official party will be conducted to the dais in the drill area. The mayor will welcome Mr A. J. Frame and request him to formally declare the Fire Station Open. Mr A. J. Frame will declare the Fire Station open. The Chairman of the Fire and Public Supervisory Services Committee will move a vote of thanks. Display by members of the Fire Brigade with their appliances. God save the Queen. Arrangements will be announced for the inspection of the Fire Station. Music by the Band of the London Fire Brigade.
2021 Leigh Fire Station, Mountdale Gardens
2021 Southend Fire Station, Sutton Road
Southend Fire Station official opening brochure
Leigh Fire Station official opening brochure
National Fire Service With the introduction of the Fire Brigades Act of 1938 this made the county boroughs, urban districts and rural districts each responsible for their own provision of an adequate and efficient fire service. With war looming a major study was undertaken into the services being provided, this resulted in the Home Secretary establishing a National Fire Service in May 1941, this was achieved by amalgamating the Auxiliary Fire Service and the fire services operated by the local authorities. The scrapping of the local fire services, the country was divided into separate regions, a central Home Office Fire Control was established in London to maintain contact with each of the regional organisations, this would also enable better communication between regions should extra help be needed during or after an air raid. Each area was given a number, Southend was designated Area 11. 1/ Gosforth. 2/Middlesbrough. 3/ Rotherham. 4/ Leeds. 5/ Bradford. 6/ Hessle. 7/ Derby. 8/ Nottingham. 9/ Leicester. 10/ Louth. 11/ Southend. 12/ Stevenage. 13/ Hethersett. 14/ Durley. 15/ Taplow. 16/ Lyndhurst. 17/ Bristol. 18/ Exeter. 19/ Yelverton. 20/ Llanishen. 21/ Sketty. 22/ Colwyn Bay. 23/ Worcester. 24/ Birmingham. 25/ Stone. 26/ Liverpool. 27/ Cheadle. 28/ Bolton. 29/ Preston. 30/ Maidstone. 31/ Brighton. 32/ Woking 33/ London (Administrative). 34/ London (Ealing). 35/ London (Highgate). 36/ London (Ilford). 37/ London (Eltham). 38/ London (Wimbledon). 39/ Swindon. 40/ Wolverhampton. 41/ Warrington. 42/ Stalybridge. 43/ Kendal. The NFS was manned by both full time and part time crews, these were made up of men and women, men would work every fourth night, women every sixth night. When on duty crews were able to volunteer to be involved in manufacturing for the war effort, with a small part of the fire station given over to the job, fire-fighters could also work in buildings alongside the fire station, most would offer to take up the task as many had previously worked in factories before the war. Service in the NFS would mean putting yourself at very considerable risk, as the NFS would be called out to attend not only the aftermath of the German air raids, but also much of the time attend fires as the air raids were still ongoing. The fires would make buildings collapse and unexploded bombs could go off at any time or bomb could drop onto the site they were working. The highest number of people working for the NFS was 370,000 of which 80,000 were women who were mostly employed on administrative roles, however some would be front-line team members going out to tackle fires. The NFS was disbanded in 1948, when the local authorities once again took charge, however, the number was slashed from the previous 1600 before the war, this was because each County Council was responsible for the operation of the services within that county, County Borough’s such as Southend retained control of their own fire service operations. Eventually the Borough Fire Services were absorbed into the county fire services
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