Rishton Fire Brigade

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Fire Bridage

A few things that you should know first of all, firstly about the local council. The local board was formed on 23rd June 1882, when boards were abolished it became the Urban District Council (U. D. C.) . Rishton U. D. C. held its first meeting on 31st December 1894 in a rented cottage at 68 High Street . As one councillor described it “a badly adapted cottage, the council chamber a back kitchen, even to a fire grate, oven and boiler”

By the end of 1899 the offices had moved to 4 Church view. Meanwhile land was purchased in Brook Street, and after several years work began on new premises.

Now, this is were the fire brigade come into it! The new premises cost £2,200 and included in the design by Mr J Cornall were offices and fire station. It was to be a brick built affair with a stone front, containing an enquiry office, overseer’s office, Surveyors office and Council Chambers with a collectors office and 2 storerooms. Some of these were upstairs, and the offices were opened on 30th June 1909 by the Chairman Mr Bernard Smith.

The council was of course eventually disbanded on the formation of Hyndburn Borough Council in 1974, with the building finally demolished in 1991. The above photo was taken in 1910.

In April 1895 the U. D. C. placed a box near to the Roebuck inn. This box held a stand pipe and a length of hose. Fourteen men were engaged at 10 shillings per annum to act as fire officers. (10 shillings is the equivalent of 50 pence today).

Just after this, in October 1896, a fire broke out in one of the mills, at 2am. They were unable to get water from Back Spring Street, and so ran the hoses through the houses from the main.

Clayton fire brigade was the first to arrive on the scene an hour and 20 minutes after the fire had started, followed by Accrington. Blackburn would not attend the blaze and Great Harwood arrived at 4am, a full 2 hours after the fire had started.

The fire was then soon brought under control and the council ordered a steam engine (a case of bolting the stable door after the horse had bolted.) at a cost of £375.00. This new engine could pump 450 per minute. A new shed was built on Cliff Street, and permission to obtain water from the canal was granted for testing.

Such a shame then that the new engine wasn’t ordered until some six years later!!!


Now the new council offices included the fire station. This had stalls for four horses and a hay loft over the top. The station could accommodate 2 engines but only housed one, and a hose carriage.

On 31st July, 1923, the fire brigade was disbanded, and in 1929 the station became a public library. To replace the fire brigade 2 call boxes were placed in the town in 1924. One was on the West side of Harwood Road at its junction with High Street, the other was on the North side of Hermitage Street, adjacent to the Rishton Mill watch house.

The Council clerk reported on the 6th August 1936, that he had received a draft agreement from the Borough of Accrington as to the Fire Brigade Services within the District of Rishton for a period of 5 years certain to an annual payment of £420, and thereafter subject to 6 months notice on either side to expire on the 31st March of any year.

During the war years the auxiliary fire service used the former fire station building.

The Council clerk outlined the provisions of Home Office Circular number 70/1939 concerning the Auxiliary Fire Service on the 5th October 1939. The Council resolved that the Auxiliary Fire Service should be reduced to 9 firemen in place of the 17 that were serving, in accordance with the provisions of the circular, and that the selection of those 9 should be deferred one week. It was proposed to keep 1 pumping unit for the first line ready for action. On the 12th October, the following auxiliary firemen received one weeks notice; B. Tattersall, J. Heyburn, H. Ormerod, A. Sykes, J. Cheetham, T. Keenan, Hanson Smith, and C. Hammersley.

On the 2nd November, the Clerk received a letter from the Home Office in pursuance of Fire Brigade Circular Number 70 concerning the further reduction of the whole-time Auxiliary Fire Service Personnel. It was decided that the four men to be retained should be J. L. Smith, J. Calvert, J. Wilkinson, and J. R. Aspden, and that one weeks notice should be given to A. Cheetham, J. C. Slater, W. Carbery, H. Smith, and D. Ackers. It was further resolved that in view of the reduced personnel that the four ton vehicle belonging to Messrs. J. W. Hopwood (Rishton) Ltd., at present on whole-time duty, should be released and in future be on call.

A Ford V8, registered number AOC 580, for auxiliary fire service purposes at a cost of £30, inclusive of alterations was bought by the Rishton urban District Council on the 14th December 1939.

The Auxiliary Fire Service was permitted to make haversacks for Service respirators on the 21st December 1939, by Rishton urban District Council, for use until supplies were forthcoming from the Ministry of Home Security.

The clerk reported receipt of the Fire Brigades Divisional Circular no 76, on the 18th January 1940, concerning the purchase of waterproof coats for Auxiliary Fire Service Personnel. The clerk was instructed to obtain prices. On the 8th February,  28 waterproof coats were purchased in accordance with Fire Brigade Circular number 76, for the Auxiliary Fire Service Volunteers. Strange then that on the 14th March, the Tenders for the supply of 28 water proof coats for the use of the Auxiliary Fire Services were submitted to the council. The quote of Messrs. Geo. Angus & Co. Ltd., 71 Bridge Street Deansgate, Manchester, 3, was accepted at 17/6 each, less 2 1/2& discount.

On the 7th March 1940, The Council clerk reported on a request for a common room for the Auxiliary Fire Service. It was resolved by the council, that all volunteers should be encouraged to use the new building in the council yard.

On the 14th March 1940, Mr. W. H. Eagles was appointed whole - time Auxiliary Fireman to replace Mr. J. Calvert who had handed in his resignation.

The Council clerk sought sanction, on the 11th April 1940, from the Home Office (Fire Brigades Division), to create two section officers in Auxiliary Fire Service, to be remunerated at £3 10s 0d per week, and that J. R. Aspden and J. Smith be promoted to these positions. It was further reported that the tyres of the Auxiliary Fire Brigade Car were in bad condition. This was to be investigated further.

The Council clerk issued Stirrup Hand Pumps for the use of supplementary fire parties, on the 9th May 1940, in accordance with a Home Office circular.

The clerk drew attention to the Fire Brigade Circular number 59, on the 11th July 1940, and stated that in accordance with the recommendations thereon, the hayloft had been adapted as a dormitory for the use of the part - time personnel who had undertaken to do regular night duties, and that also small alterations had been made in the kitchen for its use as a canteen.

An application for release from the Auxiliary Fire Service was received from J. L. Smith on the 10th October 1940, but the Council resolved at their meeting that the release was not granted. Application was also made to the Home Office (Fire Brigades) Division, to pay the Section Officer, J. R. Aspden, at the rate of £4 per week. Waterproof Leggings and Overcoats were to be obtained for the Auxiliary Fire Service Messengers.

It was resolved at an Urban Council meeting on the 9th January 1941, that an Auxiliary Fire Service Action Station should be established in the garage belonging to the Victoria Mill in Parker Street, and that a private telephone line between the Fire Station and the garage should be installed. By the 17th April 1941, In view of the difficulties found in heating the Auxiliary Fire Station in Victoria Mill, it was agreed that the station should be moved to the garage in Fielding Street owned by Mr. Cooper at a rate of 2/6 per week.

A Direct telephone line to Accrington Fire Station was to be installed at the Fire Station by connecting the line from the Harwood Road Call box on the 17th April 1941.

On the 10th July 1941, the Council Clerk reported upon an accident involving the Auxiliary Fire Service and a boy, Albert Taylor, of Great Harwood, full details of which were passed to the Atlas Assurance Co., Ltd.

On the 21st August 1941, Premises at 99, High Street, were to be adopted as the Depot and Headquarters of the Fire Guard, subject to the sanction of the County Council to the necessary expenditure. Plans and estimates for a proposed adaptation of 99, High Street, Rishton, for use by the National Fire Service were forwarded to the Divisional Officer on the 5th May 1942. The Council Surveyor reported receipt of a letter dated 19th October from the National Fire Service intimating that his estimate dated 13th August for alterations at 99, High Street, had been approved for plumbing, joinery, electrical and masons work (the item for painting and decorating being deleted) and that he had been requested to arrange for the work to be carried out. The Surveyor further reported (1) that he had prepared Bills of Quantity and invited tenders for the plumbing and joinery work; (2) that he had arranged to place the masons work in the hands of Messrs. Eccles and the electrical work in the hands of the National Fire Service Personnel; (3) that the whole of the tenders received had been forwarded to the National Fire Service Headquarters; and as a result (4) that the tender of Mr. G. Harwood had been accepted for joiners' work and the tender of Mr. R. H. Kenyon for plumbers work and (5) that the work had been put in hand. Resolved that the whole of the Surveyor's actions in the matter be approved and confirmed.

The Surveyor reported that the Divisional Officer, National Fire Service, had made application for permission to brick up the doorways leading from the stables to the Fire Station on the 12th November 1942. Resolved that the Surveyor be authorised to inform the Officer that the Council has no objection to the proposal subject to the work being carried out by and at the expense of the National-Fire Service to the satisfaction of the Council's Surveyor.

Correspondence was reported from the Regional Commissioner in connection with the Council's representations concerning No.52, High Street, Rishton, on the 12th August 1943, and intimating that by re-arrangement the National Fire Service will not require these premises.

The National Fire Service announced on the 9th September 1943, that the whole-time personnel were to be withdrawn from the Rishton Fire Station.

Application was made on the 11th November 1943, to the National Fire Service, for the return of the use of the room over the stables.

Correspondence was read from the Divisional Officer of the National Fire Service, on the 9th December 1943,  concerning the removal of the Fire Telephone Kiosks near the canal bridge and at the corner of Harwood and Blackburn Road. The Divisional Officer was informed that, in the opinion of the Council, these kiosks should be retained.

The Divisional Officer of the National Fire Service stated that the Fire Station, Brook Street, Rishton, would, in the near future, become a part-time station only on the 10th February 1944.

Correspondence was reported from the Divisional Officer of the National Fire Service concerning the de-requisitioning of 99 High Street on the 20th July 1944. The Divisional Officer was informed that the Council had no observation to make regarding the proposal.

Government Evacuation Scheme, 14th September 1944. The Council Clerk reported receipt of correspondence allocating to this district one hundred evacuees. The Clerk also reported correspondence from the Office of the Regional Commissioner stating that 99, High Street and 2a, Eachill Road, Rishton, were being transferred from the National Fire Service for use in connection with the Government Evacuation Scheme. The Regional Commissioner was informed that in the changed circumstances it now wished to release these premises