|The 10th July,1902, was a highlight in
Alcester's calendar. On that day the new steam fire engine received its public trial and
display, showing its capabilities near the Parish Church and on the Recreation Ground.
Previously the fire engine had been a manual one but now the Brigade had two engines. The
Brigade's minute book shows that Bidford was offered the old engine and 500 ft. of hose
for £60 but Alcester continued for some years to use both engines, so Bidford evidently
did not want the cast-off.
The parish council borrowed £250 to complete the purchase of the new Merryweather engine, though the Brigade itself raised £100 from voluntary contributions. It was agreed that the Council was to be the legal owner of the engine, now known as the No.1 engine. Both engines, of course, were horse-drawn at this time. The Brigade minutes do not state the purchase price but £350 seems likely.
The Brigade thought it useful to print in the local press the charges for its use: included in the list are 'For use of steam engine for six hours £5.5.0d.' then £l.1.0d. per hour. Manual engine and hose per day £2.2.0d: two horses £2.2.0d: driver 5/-: for cleaning engine and hose and assembling Brigade £l.l.0d: Captain £l.1.0d, engineer 10/6, each fireman 5/-. There were charges for extra pumpers and helpers and for fires of more than six hours duration. It is obvious that to call out the Brigade for a fire would have cost a minimum of £16; a no mean sum in 1902. This would. surely minimise non-essential calls. A similar printed list in 1915 shows that nearly all the charges were at the 1902 level.
|Two sections comprised the Alcester
Brigade; one for each engine. The names contain many that were and have been well-known in
the town - such as Gothard, Haines, Buggins, Adcock and Bomford.
On August 9th 1902, Edward VII was crowned: the Brigade committee agreed to be part of the local parade and from old photographs it is apparent that the fire service was an integral part of all future celebrations.
The Brigade was employed on ancillary work: e.g., in 1911 the minute book tells us that the engine was used at the Gas Works to fill the holder tank. No doubt other tasks came its way; one can think of pumping out flooded cellars, a constant Alcester nuisance
During the Great War great difficulty was experienced in securing horses to convey the steam engine to fires, so it was decided to purchase a motor lorry in 1916: a fund was therefore opened. As there are few minutes during the war years, it is uncertain whether the lorry was bought: in 1921 another subscription list was opened for a 3 ton lorry - this may have been purchased, for in 1931 the 'lorry and old engine' are to be disposed of. During 1927, George Haines resigned after 25 years of service as Captain of the Brigade. The minute book finishes in 1931.
Autumn 1994 Index