His­tory: Look­ing back at how we used to fight fires

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TAME­SIDE his­tory club’s next talk will be about the his­tory of Manch­ester Fire Ser­vice with Bob Bon­ner.

The talk starts with the story of or­gan­ised fire­fight­ing and fire preven­tion in Bri­tain, from the days of the Nor­man oc­cu­pa­tion, through the Great Fire of Lon­don, the Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian “golden ages” and two world wars.

Ur­ban fire­fight­ing was once in the hands of pri­vate en­ter­prise, com­pet­ing for “busi­ness,” be­fore mu­nic­i­pal­i­sa­tion took over.

Even then, the qual­ity of ser­vice was hit and miss with pro­fes­sional bri­gades, Po­lice-Fire bri­gades and vol­un­teer bri­gades all play­ing their part.

The talk con­tin­ues with the dev­as­ta­tion of the “Blitz” and its ef­fect on Bri­tain’s fire ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tion, paving the way for the mod­ern emer­gency ser­vice we are fa­mil­iar with to­day.

The jour­ney has been a ● grad­ual process of im­prove­ments in equip­ment, tech­niques, leg­isla­tive mea­sures and the lessons learned by a cat­a­logue of ma­jor dis­as­ters and sig­nif­i­cant events.

Lo­cal in­flu­ences across the years, such as fires in the Lan­cashire tex­tile in­dus­try, the risks as­so­ci­ated with the conur­ba­tion’s role as a ma­jor trans­port hub and acts of war and ter­ror­ism have meant that Greater Manch­ester’s fire­fight­ers are among the most ex­pe­ri­enced and pro­fes­sional.

The talk cov­ers the na­tional story with plenty of ref­er­ences to the lo­cal one.

Bob spent a long ca­reer as a fire­fighter in Greater Manch­ester, begin­ning in the Manch­ester City Fire Bri­gade at the fa­mous Lon­don Road fire sta­tion and reached the rank of Divi­sional Of­fi­cer be­fore re­tir­ing in 2006.

The talk will take place on Wed­nes­day, April 11, at 2pm at Tame­side Lo­cal Stud­ies and Ar­chive Cen­tre, Old Street, Ash­ton.

To book your free place please tele­phone 0161 342 4242 or email archives@ tame­side.gov.uk.

Six-cylin­der 700-10000 gal­lon Ley­land mo­tor fire pump as sup­plied to the Ash­to­nun­der-Lyne bri­gade

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