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.