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The First Rushden Fire Brigade

One of the early premises
The earliest picture - possibly at Butcher Smith's yard

In 1877 the Rushden Fire Brigade was founded with twelve men under the Captaincy of William Foskett.

It was started as a result of a public subscription to purchase a Shand Mason Manual fire engine.

William Foskett's Second Officer was Mr Fred Knight who in 1885 was appointed Captain and he served in this position for 35 years.

The first "Station" was situated in "Butcher Smiths Yard" opposite the entrance to Hall Park on the corner of Griffith Street.

The Northampton Mercury Saturday March 30th 1878, transcribed by Susan Manton

Fire Engine—There is now every probability of the long talk-talked of fire engine being purchased. Last year a committee was appointed to ascertain if the amount required could be raised by public subscription, aided by contributions from the fire assurance offices. That was found to be impracticable; and the committee then decided to recommend the committee then decided to recommend the vestry to obtain an engine under the provisions of the Lighting and Watching Act. Accordingly a resolution to that effect was submitted and unanimously adopted at a vestry held on the 21st instant and the fire engine committee being requested to act with the lighting inspector in carrying out the resolution.

Wellingborough News, 6th December 1879, transcribed by Kay Collins

FIRE ENGINE AND BRIGADEIt is little to the credit of Rushden, with its five or six hundred houses, that it should have been until now without a fire engine. Freely as the need for an engine had long been admitted, no adequate steps were taken to procure one until after the large fire two or three years back, by which property to the value of several thousands of pounds was destroyed, most of which would in all probability have been saved had there been a fire engine in the place. At numerous vestry meetings the question was discussed, and finally a committee was appointed to carry out the unanimous decision of the Vestry for an engine to be provided. Efforts were made to obtain the requisite funds by voluntary subscriptions, but these failing, it was decided by the Vestry that the provisions of the Lighting and Watching Act should be utilised, supplemented by £10, given by Mr. Cave as an acknowledgment of the cheerful voluntary aid rendered at his fire, and by any contributions to be obtained from the firemen and officers. The Norwich Union was, however, the only office that responded to the appeal, contributing £5. Wishing to make the collection under the Lighting Act as gradual as possible, the committee were not financially in a position until very recently to make a move, when, after the fullest discussion and inquiry, it was decided to obtain an engine from the well-known makers, Messrs. Shand, Mason and Co., London. The engine selected, and which the committee were fortunately enabled to obtain second hand, although for all practical purposes equal to new, is a London brigade manual fire engine, with pumping facilities for 30 men, and capable of throwing 134 gallons of water per minute to a height of 130 feet. The implements, all of which are new, include two lengths or suction hose, with requisite discharging nozzles, with copper strainer, 24 buckets, a portable cistern, and other articles necessary for the efficient working of the engine. In anticipation of its arrival, a Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed, consisting at present of the following members, who have acted on the model of other brigades in the titles of their officers: Captain, Mr. W. Foskett; lieutenant, Mr. P. Cave; sub-lieutenant, Mr. J. T. Colson; engineer, Mr. F. Knight; sub-engineer, Mr. J. Berwick; pioneers, Messrs. C. Bradfield, T. Brightwell, H. Bull, W. Claridge, W. Colson, C. Cunnington, J. Margetts, and J, Smith. Their first practice took place on Saturday week, the engine only having arrived the previous day. It was then found fully to justify the highest anticipations, and when the need for its use other than at practice shall unfortunately arise, it will doubtless be able to give a good account of itself. In the absence of an engine-house, Mr. J. Smith has placed a suitable building at the disposal of the committee. The method of calling the Brigade at that time was to ring the Number 5 bell of St Mary's Church. It was very slow as horses had to be obtained to draw the manual apparatus, so it was seldom less than half an hour before the turn out.

The Wellingborough News, 7th October 1887, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Fire Brigade Drill
On Saturday last, on the invitation of the Temperance Silver Band, the Rushden Fire Brigade turned out in full dress with their engine to meet the Irthlingborough Brigade at Hayway. The two brigades, with their engines, headed by the band, marched in procession to a field near the Gas House, where the band played for dancing, and the Irthlingborough Brigade went through a series of drills in a very efficient manner. The brigade are a fine body of young men of good physique, and full of strength and activity, and the manner in which they went to their work showed that a careful attention to discipline had been observed, and that the practices had been frequent and intelligent. The equipment and efficiency of the Brigade reflected great credit on the inspector and officers, as well as the men. The full drill with all the hose was performed in 57⅛minutes. The exhibition finished up with a wet drill. A charge was made for admission, to be given to the Infirmary. After they left the field both brigades and the band sat down to a excellent tea provided in the Coffee Tavern, and after tea the Chairman (Mr. W. Skinner) said it afforded them as bandsmen great pleasure to meet both brigades in so comfortable and social manner. It was always a pleasure to see competing teams in any work meet to enjoy a social evening and he hoped they would meet on future occasions. He moved that thanks of the band be given to both brigades for the ready response to their invitation to attend that day.—Capt. Inwards, of the Irthlingborough Brigade, responded, and said that he was sure if they had given them any pleasure they felt a pleasure in attending, and if at any time they should require their services for more serious work they would be pleased to render all the assistance they required. He said that a brigade, like a band, could only attain proficiency by a steady and constant perseverance at practice, and to be prepared was a good thing. At Irthlingborough before they had an engine they had a fire every fortnight, but since they had one they had two small fires in three years. – Capt. Knight fully endorsed the remarks as to practice, and said it was more difficult to attain proficiency in volunteer than in paid brigades, as in the former they worked for nothing, and they did not feel under the same obligation. He was sure it had been a treat to see the Irthlingborough men go through the drills, and only by constant practice could such proficiency be attained. He was sure the thanks of the Rushden Brigade were due to the band for the treat they had provided them in the field, and in that room. – The band gave an invitation ball in the New Hall in the evening.

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