What the blazes! Send for the fire fight­ing champs

Proud fire­men show off their tro­phies

Black Country Bugle - - FRONT PAGE - By DAN SHAW

“The Voice of the Black Coun­try”

THIS pic­ture from the Bu­gle col­lec­tion is redo­lent of a by­gone age, with the shin­ing brass of the fire en­gine and its two im­mac­u­lately turned out horses matched by the equally smart fire­men.

The pho­to­graph dates to around 1900 and it shows Smeth­wick fire brigade (and their dog) pos­ing with a fine steam-pow­ered fire en­gine.

If they ap­pear to be in some­one’s back gar­den, that is be­cause that is ex­actly where they are. The pic­ture was taken in the grounds of the home of the brigade’s cap­tain, Coun­cil­lor E.J. Forster – and there are a cou­ple of his ser­vants just creep­ing into the frame on the right hand side.

A vol­un­teer fire brigade was set up in Smeth­wick in 1878 and they kept their en­gine at the de­pot of the lo­cal board’s high­way de­part­ment at the rear of the pub­lic build­ings. The fire sta­tion in Rolfe Street was opened in 1910.

Smeth­wick fire brigade grace our front page too, with a pho­to­graph of sim­i­lar vin­tage. In the front page pic­ture the men’s uni­forms are slightly dif­fer­ent – they do not wear the pol­ished brass hel­mets but have black enam­elled ones in­stead, al­though they ap­pear to be pos­ing with the same fire en­gine.

Fire brigades would com­pete against other brigades in their district and fur­ther afield in ef­fi­ciency ex­er­cises, as a way of im­prov­ing their train­ing and readi­ness. Judg­ing by the tro­phies and shields lined up on the table, the Smeth­wick brigade must have been one of the best.

Can you name any of the fire­men or the of­fi­cials in these two pic­tures?

Smeth­wick fire brigade c.1900

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