Early Days: Early 20th Century

By Michael Bissett-Powell
Part 2 of 5

In the early 20th.Century firefighters in Surrey and particularly in the larger towns like Guildford and Kingston upon Thames (once the administrative County Town) were very well equipped and manual pumps of the late 19th. Century were often supplemented with, or replaced by the horse-drawn “steamer”, where a coal-fired brass boiler would heat water and create steam-power to drive the pump.  Merryweather and Co. of Greenwich were the leading manufacturers.  The picture of Camberley fire station (below) is typical of the era, with the pride of the brigade, a gleaming steamer, together with a wheeled escape which was man-handled to the rescue, plus a hose-cart with additional equipment.


Camberley Fire Station (see also below)

At one time Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton had a combined brigade which boasted seven operational fire stations! Almost without exception, the brigades listed below were organised by local Parishes and Town Councils, as in the previous Century. I say “almost”, because Sutton was one brigade organised by the South Metropolitan Fire Brigade, their High Street station being No. 4.


South Metropolitan Fire Brigade Station 4 - Sutton

In rural areas the manpower was entirely voluntary and firemen sometimes even had to purchase their own uniforms, but the larger urban brigades funded their senior officers and sometimes provided living accommodation.  These professional fire officers really were “on duty” more-or-less full-time and sometimes only had one day off in ten. A well turned-out fire brigade was a matter of enormous civic pride and you could be guaranteed a splendid sight in every town and village parade. 

Later in the 20th. Century it became a tradition in Chiddingfold for the Guy Fawkes bonfire night procession to be joined not just by the local brigade but by engines and men from Guildford, Haslemere and elsewhere.

The station list below includes some numbers ~ (1), (2), (3) etc. and this shows how a small town like Mitcham could grow and require ever larger and more sophisticated facilities, particularly when the motive power of horses was replaced by the horsepower of the internal combustion engine, the subject of Part 3 to follow.   


Fire Stations of the period

Below is a list taken from the register the Trust is collating.

Some period stations still exist so why not take a look when in the area.

We would be grateful for any information you may have to help make this list complete


(C) Conserved

(D) Demolished

(E) Existing

(P) Preserved


 Station and Address (if known)
 E  BARNES, Mortlake High Street.                  51-281376N / 00-152582W 
 E BRAMLEY, off Horsham Road, Bramley. 51-194058N / 00-558763W
 P BYFLEET, High Street, Byfleet.  51-339555N / 00-479166W
 D CAMBERLEY -1, The Avenue, off London Road. 51-337002N / 00-754517W
 CARSHALTON -2, Pound Street corner Car’n Park Rd. 51-364595N / 00-165575W
C CATERHAM – 1, High Street, Caterham-on-the-Hill.     51-287250N / 00-089139W
D CHEAM, opposite Prince of Wales, Malden Road. 51-360368N / 00-217759W
 COBHAM, The Tilt, Stoke D-abernon, Cobham. 51-325624N / 00-402490W
 CRANLEIGH -1, Ewhurst Road, Cranleigh. 51-140968N / 00-485002W
 CRANLEIGH -2, The Village Hall, Ewhurst Road. 51-140892N / 00-484234W
 EAST MOLESEY -1, 1 – 3, Matham Road. 51-398557N / 00-351535W
 EPSOM -2, Waterloo Road, adjacent to railway station. 51-334369N / 00-267615W
 EWELL -2, High Street, Ewell.  51-349216N / 00-249213W
 FARNHAM -1, South Street UDC Offices, Farnham. 51-213980N / 00-795219W
 GODALMING – 2, The Wharf.  Location unknown
 GODSTONE -1, High Street, Godstone. 51-247826N / 00-067024W
 GUILDFORD -1, North Street toilets.
51-237083N / 00-572167W
 HASLEMERE – 1, Chestnut Avenue, Haslemere. 51-089687N / 00-711045W
E HORLEY -1, Albert Road North, Horley. 51-172556N / 00-163167W
 KINGSTON UPON THAMES -1. Union Street. Location unknown
 KINGSTON UPON THAMES -2. Church Street.  Location unknown
 KINGSTON UPON THAMES -3. 23, London Road. 51-410934N / 00-300007W
 LIMPSFIELD,  Wolf’s Lane.  51-254727N / 00-015094W
 LINGFIELD -1, off Church Road.  51-176100N / 00-012900W
 MERSTHAM, Station Road North. 51-264917N / 00-151667W
 MITCHAM – 1, Old Town Hall, London Road. 51-240719N / 00-100494W
 OXTED -1, Station Road East nr. Gresham Road. 51-257033N / 00-000506E
 REIGATE -1, 51, High Street, Reigate. 51-237566N / 00-208268W
 RICHMOND – 1, Clock Tower, The Square, Richmond. 51-461320N / 00-302702W
 RIPLEY, Rose Lane. 51-298611N / 00-491389W
 SHERE, Middle Street. 51-219722N / 00-464833W
 SURBITON -1, Fire Bell Alley, Surbiton Road. 51-232936N / 00-175852W
D SURBITON -2, Victoria Road (Escape station only). 51-233465N / 00-181711W
D SURBITON -3, Alpha Road, Surbiton. 51-232163N / 00-174282W
 SUTTON -2, 250-258, High Street, Sutton. 51-367406N / 00-194648W
 SUTTON -3, Throwley Road, Sutton. 51-362230N / 00-192019W
D THAMES DITTON, Watts Road Library.  51-231413N / 00-200146W
 WEYBRIDGE, 1, Balfour Road. 51-371917N / 00-462528W
 WIMBLEDON -1, High Street opp. Dog and Fox. 51-425443N / 00-217956W
 WIMBLEDON -2, Queens Road. 51-421281N / 00-204016W
 WITLEY,  Wheeler Lane.
51-156417N / 00-655583W

Fire Stations Then & Now

Barnes 1904 Fire Station in a period print

 Barnes Fire Station Today

A sympathetic change of use, with the character of the original station preserved


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