Fire Brigade – Burton Steamer


Whilst the steam Fire Engine had made its appearance in the early nineteenth century it was not until the latter half of the eighteen hundreds that it had developed into an efficient Firefighting machine.

There were two major makers in Britain. Mem weathers, and Shand Mason and Co. Research into Newspaper archives and local History sections at Burton Upon Trent Library uncovered a delivery of a steam Fire Appliance to Burton Corporation in 1876.

When Burton’s steamer reached the end of its days with the Brigade it was sold off, and acquired by a Sir Thomas Stafford Bazley, Bart. This change of homes probably occurred during the late twenties or early thirties.

In 1963 a Mr Bob Bonner founded the Fire Brigade society, and one of the earliest members, a Mr Geoff Bottomly was appointed as Museum Secretary, and started a two year project to acquire items of interest.

Early in 1966 Geoff discovered that an old steam Fire Engine was situated at Hatherop and negotiations with its owner, Sir Thomas Bazley resulted in the Engine being loaned to the Fire Brigade Society.

In November 1967 custody of the steamer was passed to Geoff and the Engine joined the now growing fleet of Appliances known as The Transville Fire Collection. The steamer was to remain in the fleet for twenty five years until its return to its home town of Burton upon Trent in 1992.

In the Summer of 1972 the steamer along with other Fire Appliances was featured in a Granada Television Film about the Fire Brigade Society.

On January the 29th 1992, Geoff was informed that the Engine was to be sold in a Sotheby’s auction at Hendon on 30th March. Concerned about its fate if it went to auction, Geoff thought that it should end its days in some appropriate locality. So at the beginning of March he wrote to Gloucester and the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and to Bass Museum in Burton upon Trent informing them of the machine’s existence, and of its proposed disposal by auction at the end of the month.

A reply came from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service expressing an interest that if funds could be raised, it might be worthwhile contacting Sir Thomas with a view to a direct purchase. As an end result, it can still be enjoyed on display at the present day fire station.

Finally, a treasured photo that reminds that it was once a serious fire fighting machine, seen here on exercise in the New Street fire station yard.


Website by Kevin Gallagher