"The Bures Fire Engine at
This may be the earliest photograph
of a Bures Fire Engine, dated 1909
Example of Merryweather Fire Engine
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
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.
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.
Picture taken from unknown newspaper.
Fire at Chambers garage, dated
Fire Brigades Combined Efforts were necessary to subdue an outbreak
in an omnibus garage at Bures (Suffolk) A view of the fire in progress.
During a visit
to Chartwell in 2017, Jenny Davis my neighbour came across the same
image, but this time painted by Winston Churchill
I can only assume, Winston used the newspaper image as the draft
for his painting.
||The Fire at Bures,
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill,
KG, DL, OM, CH, PC, MP (Woodstock 1874 - London 1965)
Art / Oil paintings
Oil on canvas
National Trust Collections
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
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,
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
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.
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.
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
Mrs Wood far left
Building now used as garage in
|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
the ending of the war on 8th May 1945, the fire brigade was gradually disbanded.
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.
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
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.
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
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
of Fire Service during WW11,1939 - 1945
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
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
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
update with Press cuttings 02/03/2017
updated Sudbury part time June 2017