Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

Bures Fire Station, circa 1909



8 bells
The original "Bures Fire Station" was located on land opposite the "Eight Bells Public House" in Colchester Road

fire engine

"The Bures Fire Engine at Rochfords, Wormingford"

This may be the earliest photograph of a Bures Fire Engine, dated 1909


Example of Merryweather Fire Pump

Next door to the old Gas Works (behind the garage) was the local Fire Station, housing a Merryweather horse-drawn fire-engine The volunteers had uniforms but no horses. These you provided yourself or were borrowed from the local builder's yard.

One resident has a vivid memory of a young man from Wormingford furiously cycling into Bures to fetch the engine, only to be told he had to fetch his own horses. This he did, galloping back wildly on one and leading the other.

Probably purchased from Dupont and Orttewell, who were Ironmongers located in the High Steet.
Later to become "Brands Agricultural Suppliers"

fire enginr

Photograph taken at Bures.
Full crew was a compliment of ten firemen.

There was no siren, hooter or bell to summon the firemen, it was the task of the firstcomer to organise a crew and then find the horses to pull the engine.

Date unknown.



After the horse drawn fire engine fell into disrepair, cover for the village was provided from Nayland or Sudbury. The time taken to arrive at the village was excessive to say the least. It was always felt that Sudbury and Nayland looked after their own interests first, before setting out for Bures.

During 1938 Melford Rural District Council agreed to provide fire hydrants (as part of the mains water scheme) and strategically place them around the village. By 1940 the only thing that had been achieved was the provision of two standpipes and 900 ft of hose, far short of what was promised.
It was now becoming obvious even to Melford RDC, that they could not provide cover for rural fires and so the Parish Council was invited to accept delegated powers and form their own Auxiliary Fire Brigade.
Link: Press Cuttings

By 1940 the village had its own complement with hose pipes, stand pipes, ladders (from a local builder) and a lorry (on loan from Chambers Buses). Over the coming months additional fire fighting equipment was purchased.
By July 1940 the village achieved the ultimate possession, a trailer pump donated by a local resident, Mr Wood.
It was held under a covenant by the Parish Council. At the time this was a very expensive piece of equipment, Mr Wood was concerned that the village had no protection against incendiary bombs if they should ever ignite the village houses.

The maintenance and well being of this pump was allocated to Bill Moody, who seemed the only one who could master all the valves and taps etc.
The village fireman also doubled up as ARP Utility Wardens and were paid the sum of £1.00 per year as a retainer.
During the war years the brigade was fortunate enough to avoid dealing with any major fires, but they were judged to be 2nd best in West Suffolk.


Trailer Pump.
This was towed by a local Ford Saloon car to the scene of the fire. Water was obtained from ponds, wells, hydrants etc

Picture taken outside Bridge House with Mr & Mrs Thomas Wood.
Mr Wood was the Commanding officer of the Home Guard (LDV) who purchased the pump for village use.

Villagers inspecting the new Trailer Pump
Mrs Wood far left
Building now used as garage in 2004
The National Fire Service station was situated at the garages of the Swan Inn.
There were three buildings, one housed the trailer pump, another a Ford Saloon car and finally living accommodation. There were 7 part time fireman in the village with two on duty at all times to receive fire alarm calls. These two would then attempt to pick up a further four crew to make a full compliment. Hopefully others would then arrive at the station to act as a reserve crew.
Fire Station converted to residential property 2020
Price £325,000

With the ending of the war on 8th May 1945, the fire brigade was gradually disbanded.
The Fire Station was eventually closed when it reverted back to local authority control.
All "National Fire Service" and "Auxiliary Fire Service" brigades ceased operation by 1st April 1948.

However, this is not the end of the tale:-

In 1948, early one morning it was taken out of its garage without any authority and whisked off to Ipswich. Mr Wood and the Parish Council were extremely angry as a result of these actions. The Fire Brigade at Ipswich dismissed appeals for its return stating, "...these were government orders, all Fire Brigades and their property were now public property"
This did not go down at all well with Mr Wood. He subsequently found out that the Head of the Fire Brigade at the Home Office had previously been with him up at Oxford University. Mr Wood immediately sent him a letter stating all the facts, basically saying ".........that in England, you don't do things like that"
This had the desired effect, within a short time an official letter arrived, stating the pump would be returned - and it did.
The pump so generously donated to the village, survived the war and now the Home Office attempted to confiscate it, it was the parishes pride and joy.

However, with the coming of the County Fire Service the pump was no longer required and it was sold for £50 to Staunch Farm for irrigation work.
Later in its life (circa 1960`s) it was found to be too expensive to operate. It was once again sold, this time for the brasswork and fittings - a sad end to a fine piece of eqpt.

NB:- Dr Thomas Wood also gave the village in 1949, four and a half acres of land in the centre of the village which we now use as the recreation ground. Just before his death in 1950 he promised a subscription of £100 towards the proposed addition of two bells to complete the octave in the church tower and had undertaken to guarantee the full cost of the work - about £400

BW Photos by Peter Richards
Colour Photo by Alan Beales
Acknowledgment to Jack Edmondson & Peter Wood, authors of various papers on the life and times of Thomas Wood. Click Here for additional information

History of Fire Service during WW11,1939 - 1945

One problem that became apparent during World War I was that of non-standardisation. Hydrants, stand pipes and hose couplings were a problem when different brigades were working together.

The Auxiliary Fire Service was established to act as a backup or a support force to the professional front-line service during wartime. The volunteers are trained in aspects of fire fighting. This includes pump and ladder drills and different types of fire situations. The AFS also trained in the pumping of water during floods and supplying water to the community in times of emergency. Subsequently, the Auxiliary Fire Service was formed in 1938 and was mobilised on the 1st of September 1939

However, the incendiary bomb attacks of the winter of 1940/41 demonstrated the inadequacy of the fire prevention services, which were still under a multiplicity of local authorities, though co-ordinated by the Home Office and supported by the Auxiliary Fire Service, the Home Office set about creating a National Fire Service

So on 22nd May 1941 the National Fire Service was formed to unify the whole of the country and eliminate any operational problems.


National Fire Service engine dated 1943.

Now located at Wormingford.

(The indicators on the front bumper are too comply with modern road regulations)

Today cover for the village emanates from Sudbury (part time), Nayland (part time) and backed up by the Colchester (24hr staffed) Essex Fire service

Updated 14/02/2007
update with Press cuttings 02/03/2017
updated Sudbury part time June 2017
updated residential property 2020