The Old Fire Station and NATT

The Old Fire Station and the Bailiff and Burgesses

In around the year 1490, the Bishop of Winchester, the principal landlord of all the dwellings situated in New Alresford, gave authority to establish nine local men as Bailiff and Burgesses: they were to be elected locally to recognize their corporate responsibility to ensure that the town thrived on behalf of its principal landlord – ie the Bishop.

The Charter states that these nine men, of ‘ye betar and more honest Inhabitance of our town and Burrough were to be chosen, one of whom was to be Bailiff whilst the others were named Burgesses. These men were charged with the organisation of the fairs and markets and the income from these activities was then to be applied according to the resolution passed at the meetings of the Bailiff and Burgesses’. So they were self-elected, taken from the “better” members of the community.

The Bailiff and Burgesses acted as the trading standards authority, the town planning authority, and spent their income to improve the town and its facilities. But in 1886 the Municipal Corporations Act led to the dissolution of the “Corporation of the Bailiff and Burgesses”, and led to the establishment of the New Alresford Parish Council to take over most of their responsibilities.

Commemorating 500 years of serviceDSC_0289a

How were the Burgesses to celebrate their 500 years of power over Alresford? John Adams, working from researches by Digby Grist, advised in the publication Alresford Displayed (www.alresfordhistandlit.co.uk) in 1990 that “One of the duties on which the Bailiff had not been conspicuously successful in the past was fire prevention. There had been three disastrous fires and many minor ones. The Corporation decided to provide Alresford with a fire engine. Then the question arose of where it was to be housed. One of the Burgesses, William Henry Hunt, was an architect: the wife of another, John Covey, had a piece of land at the bottom of Broad Street.”

“Eddolls and Kemp – then carpenters – arranged some timber; Henry Hewitt provided bricks. Others helped, with John Pewsey making the iron gates. The Old Fire Station, as it is now known, was built quickly at a cost of £130 to stand as a permanent memorial to the Centuries old benign rule of the Bailiff and Burgesses.”

DSC03596a“The newly constituted Alresford Rural Sanitary Authority (whose sign on the Norman bridge was restored by the NATT in around 1990) was persuaded to share half the cost of widening the road at the bottom of Broad Street to enable the engine to get out of the building!”

So the Fire Station was there, all they needed now was a fire engine! Eventually it arrived. The Fire Station still stands as a memorial to the activities of the Bailiff and Burgesses of Alresford, and the fire engine is preserved in the new fire station.

Who owns it now?

The various activities of the Burgesses that were not transferred to the Parish Council were taken over by the New Alresford Town Trustees, a charity based organization formed to collect market tolls and hold the land and building assets of the Burgesses, which included the Old Fire Station. The NATT today still follows the principles laid down by the charter that established the Bailiff and Burgesses of the town, in around 1490.

The Old Fire StationDSC_0287a

The title deeds for this property show that it was sold in 1694 by Priscilla Worlidge and Rebecca Worlidge of Bramdean, spinsters, to Daniel Veck the younger, of New Alresford, fellmonger (dealer in hides or skins, particularly sheepskins). It was then described as a parcel of ground with a frontage of 34 feet.

In 1704 Daniel Veck mortgaged it to William Fry (of West Tisted, a brickburner), when there was a messmate on the land.

In 1743 Veck’s son John transferred the property to his son, another Daniel.

In 1777 Daniel Veck leased it for 14 years to John Hart junior and Bulbeck Dancaster the younger, woolstaplers.

By 1843 the property had passed to the Revd. Henry Aubrey Veck of Forton, Alverstoke (son of Richard Aubrey Veck and Elizabeth his wife). His widow Dorothy sold it to William Bailey, boot and shoe maker.

William Bailey died in 1880, and the building, now occupied as two separate tenements by William Bailey and George Hall, was sold to Mrs Susanna Eliza Covey, the wife of John Covey quoted above.

In 1881 Mrs Covey sold the property to the Bailiff and Burgesses of New Alresford; it was vested in the Town Trustees in 1890.

Eventually it was used to house the horse drawn fire engine for the town: in around 1985 it was leased to George and Beryl Watson, furniture restorers and picture framers, and it is now (2013) operated as a picture framing business by Artworthy Framing.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Len Strong on August 23, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Read my memories of the Fire service in the ’30’s on the Len Strong memories. page.

    Reply

  2. Another comment from Coralyne Harfield (nee Hack) on the Dean School story said:
    “Hi my name was Coralyne Hack (Carol): I now live in Nottingham, my grandad, Arthur Brown, was a fireman when the station was down Broad Street. I went to the Dean School and Perins: I was born in 1948.”

    Reply

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