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

(R)Researching

 Station and Address (if known)
  LATITUDE/LONGITUDE REFERENCE
 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
D
 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
E
 COBHAM, The Tilt, Stoke D-abernon, Cobham. 51-325624N / 00-402490W
E
 CRANLEIGH -1, Ewhurst Road, Cranleigh. 51-140968N / 00-485002W
E
 CRANLEIGH -2, The Village Hall, Ewhurst Road. 51-140892N / 00-484234W
E
 EAST MOLESEY -1, 1 – 3, Matham Road. 51-398557N / 00-351535W
D
 EPSOM -2, Waterloo Road, adjacent to railway station. 51-334369N / 00-267615W
E
 EWELL -2, High Street, Ewell.  51-349216N / 00-249213W
E
 FARNHAM -1, South Street UDC Offices, Farnham. 51-213980N / 00-795219W
D
 GODALMING – 2, The Wharf.  Location unknown
D
 GODSTONE -1, High Street, Godstone. 51-247826N / 00-067024W
E
 GUILDFORD -1, North Street toilets.
51-237083N / 00-572167W
E
 HASLEMERE – 1, Chestnut Avenue, Haslemere. 51-089687N / 00-711045W
E HORLEY -1, Albert Road North, Horley. 51-172556N / 00-163167W
R
 KINGSTON UPON THAMES -1. Union Street. Location unknown
R
 KINGSTON UPON THAMES -2. Church Street.  Location unknown
D
 KINGSTON UPON THAMES -3. 23, London Road. 51-410934N / 00-300007W
E
 LIMPSFIELD,  Wolf’s Lane.  51-254727N / 00-015094W
D
 LINGFIELD -1, off Church Road.  51-176100N / 00-012900W
P
 MERSTHAM, Station Road North. 51-264917N / 00-151667W
E
 MITCHAM – 1, Old Town Hall, London Road. 51-240719N / 00-100494W
D
 OXTED -1, Station Road East nr. Gresham Road. 51-257033N / 00-000506E
D
 REIGATE -1, 51, High Street, Reigate. 51-237566N / 00-208268W
E
 RICHMOND – 1, Clock Tower, The Square, Richmond. 51-461320N / 00-302702W
E
 RIPLEY, Rose Lane. 51-298611N / 00-491389W
P
 SHERE, Middle Street. 51-219722N / 00-464833W
D
 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
E
 SUTTON -2, 250-258, High Street, Sutton. 51-367406N / 00-194648W
D
 SUTTON -3, Throwley Road, Sutton. 51-362230N / 00-192019W
D THAMES DITTON, Watts Road Library.  51-231413N / 00-200146W
D
 WEYBRIDGE, 1, Balfour Road. 51-371917N / 00-462528W
E
 WIMBLEDON -1, High Street opp. Dog and Fox. 51-425443N / 00-217956W
E
 WIMBLEDON -2, Queens Road. 51-421281N / 00-204016W
E
 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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