Fire Brigade , Bradford on Avon
|Tracing the history of the fire brigade in Bradford-on-Avon is a little frustrating and only disjointed bits and pieces have been found. For instance, Kelly's Directory for 1885 recorded the fact that a brigade existed in the town, with twelve men commanded by Superintendent E.J.. Rossiter and equipped with a manual pump which was kept at the Town Hall, whilst in 1889 Superintendent Edmund Long was in command. There is a brief mention of a fire, in August 1891, when the sawmills and india rubber works of Mr. G, Holbrow at Limpley Stoke were involved and some criticism was directed towards the Bath City Fire Brigade for its failure to attend so that the fire fighting was left to the twelve members of the Bradford Fire Brigade who attended with their solitary manual pump. No doubt, as in other towns at the time, .some reliance was placed upon the fact that large industrial concerns often had a private fire brigade and of course, in Bradford there was a works brigade at Kingston Mills - the name, in 1891, was not mentioned but it could have been even then, Spencer Moulton & Co. Actually. The mention then, in 1891, was only to the effect that, on 27th June the works brigade indulged themselves in a day's outing t o Weston-super-Mare, a n outing which resulted in their absence from the works front 0600 hours until 2300 hours, another instance of what would appear nowadays to be an irresponsible action but one which was 'commonplace and obviously accepted as a way of life then.|
|In 1904 discussions commenced between the Councils of the Urban District; and Rural District about the creation of an agreement between them regarding the management of the fire brigade. These discussions dragged on for years. At one time a form of agreement was actually signed and the Rural Council began paying an agreed sum but this was declared illegal by the District Auditor and consequently the agreement fell through, . It was not until 15th July, 1907 (when Captain Charles Bricker was in charge) that final agreement was reached and the two Councils signed the formal document in which it was recorded',., that the Urban District Council, under the Public Health Act 1875 and. the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, had provided a fire engine, fire escape and other apparatus and also appointed a proper number of firemen and made Rules regulating the pay and control of such firemen...' (This information reveals that the brigade also possessed an escape which would undoubtedly be a hand-drawn, wheeled model common to the times and which may well have been provided by the-Council but equally could have been provided by the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire in a campaign carried out by the Society in the 1870s to provide a good many towns with an escape at no cost to the residents) .Be that as it may, under the agreement now signed by the two Councils, the Rural District were to pay in quarterly instalments, the sum of £7.10s. 0d, (£7.50) per annum until June 1909 and £5 per annum thereafter. This would formalise the use of the Bradford on Avon Fire Brigade in the Rural District area and, in fact, this agreement seems to have remained in force until the 31st May, 1931,|
As for the equipment and daily
happenings of the brigade, it must be remembered that Bradford was a small
town arid consequently its financial ambitions were scaled accordingly.
For instance, it is extremely difficult to imagine what sophisticated
equipment was involved in the 'purchase in 1913, for the comparatively
low cost of £16.18s. 0d. (£16.90) of a 'Water Motor and Gong"
- no clue is given as to what it was or how or where it could be used.
In 1914 more hose was purchased and it was also decided to provide the
firemen with new uniforms at £15 each. When Charles Earle was Chief
Officer, in 1915, the Council considered the advantages of purchasing
a motor pump as against the use of a motor tractor to tow a pump, but
it was considered that the tractor would be impracticable in the locality,
Considering the Bradford area and its steep hills, it raises the question
as to just what was meant by the term tractor when considering the versatility
of that type of power unit.