Tag Archives: Mitcham Fire Brigade

1924 : Fireman Aged 7

From the Belfast Telegraph – Tuesday 05 February 1924, via the British Newspaper Archives. which requires a subscription.

FIREMAN AGED SEVEN.
DRIVES MINIATURE TENDER.
REMARKABLE CAPACITY.

When Mitcham Fire Brigade turned out yesterday people in the streets were amused to see following at a long distance behind the engine a smaller fire tender complete in every detail pedalled by a very small boy fully equipped as a regular fireman. It was a model exact in every detail — just a third the size of the Mitcham motor tender and escape — made by Fireman A. Palmer Riley, of the Mitcham Brigade, for his 7-year-old son, Alexander, who is as keen as his father on fire engines and fire brigade work. This was young Alec’s first appearance with his wonderful machine.

His father, who is a master plumber and sanitary engineer at Collier’s Wood, later told a “Daily News” correspondent — “My son is a born fireman and runs after fire engines wherever be sees one. He continually worried me with questions, so in my spare time I made him an engine, or rather a tender for himself. I finished it on Saturday. It is an exact scale model of the Mitcham tender, minus the driving engine. It is made of wood, steel, and brass, the rod work being old gas tubing. A steel tank inside it will hold two gallons of water and what is called a first aid supply.

“A five foot escape is on top, two chemical extinguishers at the rear made out of salt tins, and a complete tool outfit and hose piping are carried. Two electric headlights and a searchlight and a resounding brass warning bell, all made by myself, are other main features.”

Alec wears a brass helmet and axe, also made by his father, and a full fireman’s uniform made by his mother. Mr. Riley is a remarkable fireman. He speaks French fluently, and understands modern Greek, Italian and Spanish. For years he travelled as a highly skilled craftsman in all the countries of Europe for big London firms.

From Ancestry.com:

1911 Census

Alexander Palmer Riley, aged 32, was living at 10 Park Road, Colliers Wood with his wife Alice Gertrude, 29, and their daughter Alice Eileen, aged 2. His occupation was listed as Plumber Gas and Hot Water Fitter.

Library and Museum of Freemasonry; London, England; Freemasonry Membership Registers

On 16th October 1917 he is listed as a Regimental Sergeant Major, residing at the Holborn Military Hospital.

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations)

He died in 1962 leaving £2,664. His address was 2 Glebe Path, Mitcham.

See also report on a fire in 1932

Grove Lodge Garage

Grove Lodge Garage was described in a news item on page 1 of the 24th February, 1933, Mitcham News & Mercury, as being at Tramway Path, near Mitcham Station, and kept by Frank GUYATT, builder and contractor.

BIG BLAZE AT A GARAGE
Fighting the Flames in the Snow
Factory Saved

Considerable damage was done by a fire which broke out shortly before six o’clock on Saturday morning at Grove Lodge Garage.

The discovery was made by Mr George Potter, of London Road, who informed the police, and they summoned the Mitcham Fire Brigade..

Chief Officer Albert O. Wells promptly turned out with one engine and a complement of men. The other engine, also fully manned, followed shortly afterwards. There was a blizzard of snow at the time, and the firemen experienced great inconvenience. They found a large corrugated iron building ablaze from end to end. Plenty of hose and a good supply of water enabled the firemen successfully to cope with the outbreak and keep it from spreading. The direction of the wind helped them.

The Damage

The garage was burnt out, two motor cars and a miscellany of goods, machinery, etc. being destroyed, running into several hundreds of pounds. The fire attacked a neighbouring factory, but this was saved, though police and willing helpers salvaged a valuable quantity of chemical food stored therein to make sure the fire did not affect it.

The firemen were handicapped by many tons of burning rubber refuse in the buildings, which caused dense fumes. Several tons of copies of the Talmud (Jewish books of law), which were unfolded and unbound, caught fire and were destroyed.

At one time the blaze was so terrific that it was actually seen by a milkman in Carshalton Road, two miles away.

Nobody was hurt, and the firemen left after several hours’ hard work, during which they had the satisfaction of saving some very valuable property.

The chemical food referred to may have been Lactagol.

1956 : Mitcham Fire Brigade Station Officer Retires

From the Norwood News – Friday 05 October 1956

NO MORE FIRE CALLS FOR HIM

FIFTY -ONE-YEAR-OLD Mr. H. S. Shepherd, Station Officer of Mitcham Fire Brigade, slid down the emergency pole on Monday morning but not to answer a call.

It was a farewell gesture.

For when Mr. Shepherd came off duty after a 72-hour spell at 9 a.m., he began his retirement.

He leaves the brigade four years earlier than is necessary. Recent changes in conditions enable officers to retire on pension after 30 years.

Mr. Shepherd was born in Mitcham and joined the brigade when he was 19. Apart from the war years, he has been with it since. In 1926, Mitcham fire brigade consisted of a chief officer, an engineer sub-officer — and Fireman Shepherd.

“A BOX”

“The engine was a box on four wheels — but what a machine! It won competitions all over Surrey.”

“It had solid tyres, but it could travel at 45 m.p.h. — faster than engines today, hampered as they are by traffic.”

When there was a fire, a bell, and later a siren, in the Town Hall, called council roadmen and gardeners from their jobs.

They donned uniforms and helmets as the big Merryweather roared down the road.

“Fire-fighting was not as easy then as it is today . . . we had no wireless.”

During the war, Mr. Shepherd worked with the National Fire Service. He was in the thick of the London blitz.

He became Station Officer at Mitcham in 1950.

NEW HOME

This week he will be moving with his wife and children (Roger, 10, and Irene, 20) from the station house to the home on the edge of the cricket green, which he has owned for some years.

“I shall take it easy for a bit,” he said.

“And for the first time, 1 won’t have to sleep with the telephone next to my bed.”

On Sunday. Mr. Shepherd was presented with a barometer by members of Mitcham Fire Brigade, and with a gift voucher by the officers.

Council depot, Church Road

Council depot that had its main entrance on Church Road, east of Church Place. Shown on this OS map of 1953 as Corporation Depot, this site is now the housing estate of Morland Close.

1953 OS map

Parts of the north wall along Love Lane remain, and an entrance, now bricked up, can be seen at the junction with Edmund Road.

Photo taken April 2016

New Articles
Norwood News – Friday 06 March 1931

FIRE AT COUNCIL DEPOT.

Mitcham Fire Brigade were called on Tuesday morning to an outbreak at the Council’s depot in Church-road. When they arrived with their appliances, they found the surveyor’s motorcar was ablaze. It transpired that an explosion, caused by a petrol leak in the carburettor, had started the fire. The brigade quickly extinguished it, and saved Mr. Riley Schofield his car, only the fabric being damaged.


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

F. Joyce & Co., sheet metal workers

Listed in the 1930 commercial directory as at 261 Church Road, Mitcham, telephone no. 1562.

A fire at the factory reported in the Norwood News – Friday 04 April 1930, which referred to it as a tin factory:

TIN FACTORY FIRE.

Mitcham Fire Brigade were called on Saturday noon to an outbreak at Messrs. Joyce and Co.’s tin factory, Church-road, and found that a shed at the side of the premises had caught fire. They quickly extinguished the flames, and confined the damage to a quantity of wood.

1930s Mitcham Fire Brigade

This photo was taken of the Mitcham Fire Brigade, in the 1930s in front of the Fire Station at Lower Green West. It was posted onto the Facebook Mitcham History Group, where the names were supplied, and permission has been given to reproduce it here.

On the escape left to right. Fm Roper, Fm Simmonds, Fm Griffin, Fm Birmingham, Fm Thompson, Fm Niven, Fm Vickers. Standing Left to Right. 2nd Officer Tilley, 3rd Officer Jones, Fm Hedger, Fm Pugh, Fm Coleman, Fm Smith, Sub Officer Goshawk, Sub O Shepherd, Chief Officer Lawson.

The fellow who posted this photo also said :

Alfred Tilley, 2nd Officer Mitcham Fire Brigade. Standing in front line 1st on left. … seem to recall he was the uncle of Terry Tilley.

1965 : Mr Tilley retires after 25 years with Mitcham Fire Brigade

Twenty-five years as a fireman ended on Friday for Mr Terry Tilley, Russell Road, Mitcham. Here (centre) with his wife he receives a clock from Station Officer P. Dann, and an illuminated address signed by all members of the station.
All his colleagues also subscribed towards the cost of the clock.
From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 12th February, 1965, page 1.

Enjoyed his 25 years of fire-fighting

The summer afternoon when a rubber dump started to smoulder in the Willow Lane was the start of the biggest fire in Mitcham since the war.

Mr Terry Tilley recalled the blaze this week as he sat in his Russell Road home and looked back on 25 years as a fireman.

“It was two or three years after the war,” he said, “and I remember it was very, very hot.

“Tons and tons of rubber went up and you could see the flames miles away. It was like a mushroom.”

Long into the night 40 engines and dozens of firemen fought the fire, one of a spate of rubber dumps which went up the London area.

Of his experiences during the war Mr Tilley most vividly recalls a bombing raid on London’s dockland.

Fire engines raced from all over London to fight the blazing oil and tar refineries at Silvertown.

“The raid began in the afternoon,” said Mr Tilley, “and about 8 o’clock the bombers came back and went on dropping until the early hours of next morning.

“It was a fantastic sight with the fire engines and A.R.P. units all over the place. We lost a few men, I think, when the bombers came back.”

“Mr Tilley, who is 55, joined the Mitcham Brigade in 1940. In 1946 he moved to Banstead for nine years before returning to Mitcham.

He didn’t join for any particular reason, but now he says: “I enjoyed the life, and I shall miss the men.”

For the future he intends to have a few weeks’ holiday and then get another job, though he is not quite sure what.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 19th February, 1965

There are photos on Merton Memories of the rubber tyre dump fire on 2nd June 1947. For example:

Clip from Merton Memories photo 51069, copyright London Borough of Merton.

Alfred Tilley, also at the Mitcham Fire Station, was his uncle, according to a post on Facebook. He is pictured on a 1930s photo of the brigade. He was mentioned in newspapers as having rescued 15 cats over his career.

Second Officer Alfred Tilley, of the Mitcham Fire Brigade, has just rescued his fifteenth cat. He saved his first cat in 1920. In those days he went out on a bicycle and borrowed a ladder.
From the Daily Herald, 16th December, 1939.