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The Cheltenham Fire Brigade

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Outside the Cheltenham Fire-station 1926.

“Until 1911 Cheltenham had a local Voluntary Fire Brigade. In that year the Metropolitan Fire Brigade was formed and through it a hall was built on the Highway at a cost of £350. Eight years later a brick house costing £1151 was added. There were two full time firemen; several others served part time. In 1960 the fire protection system was re-organised; the building on the Highway was demolished and replaced by the Ambulance Station. Cheltenham is now served by the fire stations at Moorabbin and Mentone.” (Blackman 1973:11)

Norm Wilson recalls the fire-station in the late 30s. “You would go over to the Cheltenham fire-station on Point Nepean Road and you would see these beautiful brass helmets all line up. I have never seen anything so clean, you could eat your meals off the floor, it was terrific. They used to have the old Dennis but first they had the Hotchkiss.

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Back Row: James Wilson, Percival (Percy) Alexander Wilson. Front Row: Snow Marshall, Bill Mansfield and Bill Purcell. November 1926.

“Snow Marshall and Bill Purcell were the firemen and both my father and grand father were p.p. fire-men at the Cheltenham fire-station. A p.p. fireman was a fireman who was ‘part paid’. Dad had the wood yard opposite the Memorial Hall and was a part-time fireman in late twenties and early thirties. He used to get five shillings a fire. In those days it was our bread and milk for a week for a family. His father and he used to be in it.

“The story goes that my grandfather used to pay a kid threepence to go and set the grass alight in summer in the paddock not far from the wood yard. They would then get the call and go out and put it out and he would get his five shillings.”

References

  • Blackman, Nance. (1973) An Outline of the History of Cheltenham and Heatherton from the 1840’s to 1973, Unpublished paper.
  • Whitehead, G. J., Interview with Norman Wilson, May 1998.

Article Cat. Events in the Past
Article Ref. 21

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