Alresford’s Fire Service

A memory from Len Strong, now resident in Derbyshire:

“The fire brigade in Alresford was manned by a part time crew in the 1930s. The method of summoning them in an emergency was to telephone the police station in Station Road and notify the duty constable of the whereabouts of the incident. He would then fire off two rockets, (maroons), which exploded in the sky with loud bangs and these would alert the crew who would be going about their normal daily employment. They would then race to the fire station on foot or by whatever means of transport was available.

The fire station was at the bottom of Broad Street and at the side of the big red doors was a glass panel let into the wall and behind this was housed the key to the doors. Any member of the public who happened to be passing when the maroons went off was expected to break the glass, remove the key and open the doors in readiness for the fire crew.

My Grandad, whose bakery was just across the street, made this his unofficial duty, and he would run across the street, often with hands covered in flour or dough, and open up the doors. Most of the fires turned out to be haystacks or barns on outlying farms and if we boys were off school we would race after the fire-engine on our bikes to the location of the fire. But one Sunday after going to morning service at church, (I sang in the choir at that time), I and two of my pals went for a walk in the afternoon. We were strolling by the river about a mile out of town when we heard the maroons go off. Curiosity made us hurry back and to our dismay we found that the church vestry was on fire.

It was quite a blaze but fortunately it was brought under control before spreading to the main body of the church, but not before it had destroyed all our choirboy gowns, surplices and numerous hymn and prayer books. So that evening at Evensong we had to sing in the choir in our Sunday suits and with the smell of burnt timber in our nostrils.

It was suggested, but never proved that someone was smoking a crafty fag and had discarded the end without putting it out, but I guess that is another story.!

The fire station in Broad Street served the town from the 1800s till 1940, when a new modern building was built at the bottom of Pound Hill.

[And in 2012 there are plans to move the Police Station in Station Road into the Fire Station itself!]

The old station still stands in all it’s red painted glory as a listed building and is a ‘must’ to the many visitors who visit this beautiful little Hampshire town of Alresford. But in 2018 the building was repurposed, and now houses the first part of the Alresford Museum! Where the old Alresford fire engine once stood, in 1910, another vintage Merryweather fire engine is now on show. Originally the Tichborne Park Fire Service engine, this is the same model that once looked after Alresford, driven to the fire by two horses, and the steam boiler on the back drove the pump that sucked water from anywhere available, into hoses to put out the fires. First Open Day to display this appliance, and many other fire history items, was 15 September 2018!

7 responses to this post.

  1. Reply from Steven Biggs (submitted on the Fair Night page so moved here)
    The FIRE station at the bottom of Broad Street was manned daily by two people during the war, and was run by the Royal Auxiliary Fire Services and the Hampshire Fire headquarters were at the house that was taken over by the computer producers. My father was in the fire services throughout the thirties until 1950 when the Fire Station then moved to Pound Hill next door to Perins secondary school. The school that you have in the photos as Perins grammar school was not as told, but was known as the penny sausage, and stood on the top right corner of the Dean.
    The best place to go for photographs if you want them is at the records office at the bottom of Sussex Street in Winchester. I also have a few I will share with you – in return I would like any photos of the fire services during the thirties to the nineteen fifties.
    Also I can identify a few people on the photographs you have because I was born in Alresford in the forties in twenty broad street, now the library. Also there are some pictures i would like to get copies of from you as well because they have my relatives on them.


  2. Posted by Len Strong on December 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Perins scool was originally on the corner of West street and the Dean, but as far as i know the ‘Penny sausage’ was a name we gave to the ‘Alreford Preparatory School’ run by a Miss Curtis in a yard farther up West street. Initials being A.P.S, we boys called it the ‘Alf pound of Sausage’. school..and the period I refer to when the fire station was unmanned was in the 1930-39 years before the war. Len Strong.


  3. Posted by pam razey on July 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Can anyone remember a family called Wigmore that lived at Brandy Mount ?


  4. Doesn’t any body have photographs of the Auxilary fire services that served at the station in Broad Street New Alresford Myself I have two one taken at the station during the 2nd world war and also one taken the same time at the fire Headquaters at Kings Worthy showing about fifty people on one and all the firemen who served at the Broad street station if any body has any more during this period I would be verry interested in doing a deal with them for any copy’s.


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