East & West Molesey

A Dictionary of Local History

Rowland G. M. Baker, 1972

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The Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed in 1872, and the East Molesey Local Board voted a small sum of money for the purchase of equipment, which was supplied by Messrs. Merryweather the famous fire fighting specialists. The quantity of equipment was limited by the very small amount of money available, and consisted only of hoses, standpipes, a lamp, and a hand cart on which to wheel them about. In 1874 a shed in Park Road was rented at 5 per annum to house the apparatus and the words FIRE BRIGADE were painted on the front. A new cart to carry the hose reels and other appliances was purchased in 1879, the old one "being found by the men to be too heavy and not possessing several modern improvements".

In 1883 there were demands that the public should subscribe for a steam fire pump. A meeting of the inhabitants was told that "at present they had not a chance in a hundred of putting out a fire". In spite of this it was several years before the village had a fire pump and even then it was a manual one, though it cost 150. Nevertheless the village was proud of its new acquisition and the Local Board provided a fire station in the grounds in the grounds of their yard at the corner of Matham and Walton Roads. The pump was delivered on 2nd March 1889 by rail to Hampton Court and was paraded around the parish before being put into its new station. It was horse-drawn, supplied by Merryweathers, operated by extending poles on either side, which were worked up and down by men, thirteen on each side, and capable of throwing 115 gallons per minute to a height of 125 feet. At the same time the brigade purchased new uniforms, gloves, boots, belts, axes, pouches, buttons, epaulettes, lifelines, branch pipes, breeching, lamps, hoses, and other equipment, to a total of 317.3s.6d. The vicar and churchwardens of St. Paul's presented the brigade with a bell to summon the volunteers together whenever an alarm was raised.

When the district came under the jurisdiction of the Molesey U.D.C. the old Board offices at the corner of Matham Road were abandoned in favour of more commodious premises in St. Mary's Road. A portion of the grounds with a frontage to Walton Road was allocated for the erection of a new fire station, which was opened on 5th October 1902.

A horse-drawn steam fire pump was acquired in 1909. The old manual engine, now a museum piece, is still preserved at the Surrey Fire Brigade headquarters at Reigate. On 24th January 1925 a 32 horse power Dennis motor pump with an extending 35 feet escape ladder was purchased at a cost of 800.

During the last war, to cope with the menace of incendiary air raids, an Auxiliary Fire Service was instituted to supplement the existing brigades, and eventually all fire fighting facilities were brought under the direct control of the Home Office. In Molesey the central fire station was augmented by the establishment of other stations, one in the old parish schools in High Street, West Molesey, later to become the Youth Centre, and another in Orchard Lane. After the war the service was reduced to peace time requirements. Under the Fire Service Act of 1947 control was transferred to the County Council, which in 1961, closed down the Molesey fire station.

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