Newport Count Borough Fire Engine 1937

Photo reference number: 35

(Text and Image from Newport Encyclopaedia 1937)

By the Secretary C. HALLETT.

Up to the year 1884, the duties appertaining to the extinguishing of fires were carried out by the Police of the town. In that year, however, the Mayor (Councillor J. W. Jones, J.P.) called a public meeting of the Burgesses, at which meeting it was resolved unanimously to form a Volunteer Fire Brigade. The Mayor became Honorary Captain, and continued in that office, for many years. Mr. R. J. Whitehall, a gentleman who had had some previous experience of fire brigade work, was appointed Captain and there were two Lieutenants, viz. Messrs. Horace S. Lyne and F. W. Cross, and twenty Firemen. A subscription list was opened for providing uniforms, etc., and the Corporation made a grant of 50 and handed over such appliances as they had. Most of these seem to have been very old and in a bad condition. They included two manual pumps, a hose reel and a quantity of leather hose. One of the manuals is still in existence, having been retained for its sentimental and historic value.
The first Fire Station (a very inadequate building), was opposite the Police Office in Dock Street. The building is still in existence and is now used as a garage for the Police patrol cars.
The records of the Brigade show that there were many difficulties to contend with in those days. Such hydrants as were in the town were of varying patterns and a lot of delay was occasioned in getting the standpipes and hose to fit. Delay also often arose in getting horses to draw the appliances to the scene of a fire.
It was the custom then to have detachments of firemen on special duty on November 5th and on the nights of Parliamentary Elections. For some years the firemen were called to fires by the Police going round the men's houses. Nowadays each fireman's dwelling is connected to the Central Fire Station by an electric call bell or a telephone.
In 1886, Mr. Horace Lyne was appointed Captain of the Brigade and continued as Chief Officer until his retirement in 1934, on the completion of 50 years' service. He was succeeded as Chief Officer by Mr. Charles Ernest Smith, who occupies the position to-day. Mr. Lyne's services are still at the disposal of the Brigade in an advisory capacity, and he now holds the rank of Honorary Chief Officer.
The first steam fire engine was purchased in 1885, a second steamer was obtained in 1900, and in the latter year the first professional fireman was appointed.
In 1896, a new Fire Station, built on the site of the present premises, was opened, and three horses were purchased and kept at stables there. This appears to be the commencement of the period when the Brigade had its own horses, and those who are in a position to remember still speak in admiration of the perfect training of the horses and the way in which they took up positions to be turned out when an alarm of fire was raised.
In 1912, the Brigade had its first motor fire engine, and two years later all the horses were dispensed with and two motor pumps purchased.
The Central Fire Station was enlarged to its present extent in 1915 and re-opened by the then Lord Tredegar.
In addition to fire fighting the Brigade mans the Corporation Motor Ambulance, which is primarily intended for street accidents but is also used extensively for sick removal cases.
Since the formation of the Brigade several well-known gentlemen, in addition to those mentioned, have been officers in the Brigade and have taken a part in bringing it up to its present-day efficiency. Amongst them may be mentioned Messrs. R. H. Haynes, J. A. Lyne, Mark Phillips, Edward Coulman and C. H. Wilson, all since deceased, and Messrs. A. W. Boucher, R. F. Lyne, Cyril Bates and T. G. Kenvyn, happily still with us.
The present personnel of the Brigade at full strength consists of 4 officers and 35 firemen, of whom 1 officer and 8 firemen constitute a full time Professional Staff. The principal appliances, all motor vehicles, include two turbine pumps, one trailer pump and tender, one first-aid tender and escape, one small tender, and one turntable escape with an 85 feet extending ladder and water tower.
The Brigade also carries nearly 12,000 feet of canvas hose.