Saturday, 23 July 2011
Needham Market Steamer Fire Engine
On 20th November 1962 The Fire Authority for Ipswich opened a new fire station in Colchester Road. In readiness for the opening event the Service installed the 1911 Shand Mason steam pump as a static display in a cabinet at the front of the station.
The pump was originally purchased by Needham Market Town Council. The Council passed a resolution on 2nd October 1911 to purchase the new steam fire engine from Messrs. Shand Mason and Co and the pump was delivered to them on 1st June 1912.
The pump was drawn by one or two horses but in the event that no horses were available, it was pulled by an old Model T Ford. It required six or eight fire-fighters to operate the pump. The wheels were originally of solid metal but later they were covered by a rudimentary rubber tyre.
The pump attended its last fire on 30th July 1940 at Gt Finborough. This was the last steam fire engine to attend a fire in the UK.
The pump was on display at the National Fire Service College in Saltdean, Brighton from 1942-1948. After a nomadic few years, it was offered on indefinite loan to Ipswich Fire Service.
In advance of the upcoming closure of the Colchester Road fire station, which is being superseded by the new Ipswich east fire station, the pump is being officially handed over to Needham Market Town Council, which has decided that it should be displayed at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket.
This official handover marks the latest chapter in the long and illustrious history of the steam pumper and Colchester Road fire station.
I was honoured to be invited to attend the handover, surprisingly the occasion was quite moving, with a lady whose father had manned a similar type of alliance present at the event, she even had her photograph taken with one of the Colchester Road fire crews.
With the handover of the appliance we get closer to the closure of the station, it seems most local residents are happy that the Council's preferred development is 50 plus houses rather than flats or a large superstore. But since that plan was announced the local paper has informed us that M & S would be keen to include a smaller store in the development.
Speaking to a number of residents, it seems many would be in favour of a Small convenience store within the housing development. I can see that a small food store is needed in this part of town, we will now have to wait and see what the developer comes up with.