WWII & National Fire Service (NFS) in Surrey

By Michael Bissett-Powell
Part 4 of 5

Almost four decades of the 20th. Century elapsed with fires being fought throughout Surrey with varying degrees of efficiency and co-ordination.  In peacetime the service managed, but the storm clouds were gathering and in September 1939 war against Germany was declared.

In preparation for war, the Auxiliary Fire Service had been established in the United Kingdom in 1938 to supplement the many individual peacetime fire fighters. The AFS had their own often rapidly-constructed or requisitioned stations, or added their own services to existing stations, research of their locations in Surrey is ongoing.

The National Fire Service (NFS) was the single fire service created in 1941 during the Second World War; a separate National Fire Service (Northern Ireland) was created in 1942.

The NFS was created in August 1941 by the amalgamation of the wartime national Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) and the local authority fire brigades (about 1,600 of them). It existed until 1948, when it was again split by the Fire Services Act 1947, with fire services reverting to local authority control, although this time there were far fewer brigades, with only one per county and county borough.

At peak strength the NFS had 370,000 personnel (full-time and part-time members) of which 80,000 were women.

The NFS was divided into about forty Fire Forces. These were subdivided into Divisions. Each Division had two Columns and each Column had five Companies.

Many motor repair workshops, private garages, shops, schools and council facilities were used but by 1941, with the increasing ferocity of bombing raids and the distinct possibility of invasion, all fire brigades in the UK were amalgamated as the National Fire Service.

Existing fire stations in northern Surrey became a part of Fire Force 38, with administrative headquarters at Wimbledon Close, The Downs, Wimbledon. The following list gives a flavour of the situation, with references to the appliances operating from each station with fulltime firemen. 

 B Division

  C Division
 
 B-Div. HQ  23, London Road, Kingston upon Thames. 

(HQ and C1 – C3 all within Croydon Borough)

            

 
 
 B1   Fairfield Car Park, Kingston upon Thames
PE, MP,HU2,TL,ST,GPL, Van    C4 Lower Green West, Mitcham  
PE, ST
 B2   High Street, Mortlake, (Barnes)                        PE, MP, HU2C5  The Square, Carshalton                                PE 
 B3   Kew Road, RichmondPE2, MP,    HU2C6  Belmont Road, Wallington                                             PE, MP

B4   Ewell Road, Surbiton

PE, MPC7  Brighton Road, Purley           PE, MP, Van

B5   1, High Street, Esher

PE, MDU, VanC8  4, Church Parade, High St. Banstead                   
PE2, MDU, HLL, Van
B5a  Walton Road, East MoleseyMPC9  Limpsfield Road, Sanderstead     
PE

B5b  The Tilt, Cobham

MP, HU  
B6   Church Road, EpsomPE, HU3  

B7   “White Lodge”, Brighton Road, Banstead

PE, MDU, Van   
B8   Throwley Road, SuttonHU   

B9   116, Kingston Road, Merton

HU  

B10  Malden Road, New Malden

PE2            

 

Each station in Surrey was also responsible for a group of AFS stations in their area. 

Here, for example, is a “snapshot” of  the AFS establishment in the AFS “K” Division.

 

    

              

 

HQ.  Church Street, Epsom.

K2Z   “White Lodge” Brighton Road, Banstead.K3Z  Brighton Road, Purley.

K4Z  Belmont Road, Wallington.

        
K1Z  Church Street, Epsom.2Y  Kingswood Warren Hotel outbuildings, Woodland Way, Kingswood.Annex. 2, Elmore Cottages, Chipstead3Y  Limpsfield Road, Sanderstead.4Y  Coles Mills, Hackbridge Road, Hackbridge.

1Y    Pit House, Cheam Road, Ewel

2X  “Ravena”, The Street, Tadworth.3X  St. Johns Hill, Marlpit Lane, Coulsdon.4X  Wallis Flour Mills, Wandle Road, Beddington.
1X   Epsom College, Epsom.2W  Drift Bridge Hotel, Ravena Way, Epsom Downs.3W  Coulsdon Boys Club, Chipstead Valley Road.4W  2, Woodcote Green, Wallington.
1W  St Ebbas Hospital, Epsom.2U  4, Church Parade, High Street, Banstead.
3V   Selsdon Park Hotel stables, Old Farleigh Road, Selsdon.
4V  Melbourne Road, Wallington.
 1Y   Ewell Court House, Ewell.2T Distillery Company, Great Burgh.
3U  St. James Hall, Lower Road, Kenley.
 
  2S  “Littlethorpe”, Furze Hill, Kingswood.3T  Netherwood Cottage, Woodcote Lane, Purley. 
 

2R    Windmill Press, Millfield Lane, Lower Kingswood.

3S  Rose and Crown Hotel, Godstone Road, Kenley.
 
  

3R  “Egremont”, Old Lodge Lane, Kenley.

 
  3P   Star Lane garage, Brighton Road, Hooley. 

If you have any information about the NFS in Surrey (particularly any memories from those who served) we would be delighted to hear from you.

We also highly recommend the following website of the WW2 Fire Services Preservation Group for further information on this period of fire service history

http://www.wwiifire.co.uk/

and the Imperial War Museum's excellent DVD "Fire Service at War"

http://www.iwmshop.org.uk/product/18038/Fire_Service_At_War

In Memoriam

This page is dedicated to the following members of the National Fire Service in Surrey, who gave their lives during World War 2

FIREWOMAN DOREEN DUNCAN - GODSTONE

FIREMAN HENRY J. C. HARFORD - THORNTON HEATH

FIREMAN HAROLD HITCHEN - THORNTON HEATH

FIREMAN DENIS R. C. HOLDEN - OXTED

FIREMAN HENRY A. MOTT - CROYDON

FIREMAN EDWARD E. PALMER - CHERTSEY

FIREMAN HYMAN ROSEMAN - CROYDON

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