Captains and Crew
At the time the brigade was formed in 1897, and up until the Second World War, it was the practise for fire brigade officers to be addressed, in decending order of rank, as Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Foreman and Engineer, or alternatively in the military style, as Captain, First Lieutenant, Second Lieutenant and Sergeant. The lowest rank was Fireman in both cases.

The first captain of the Broadway Fire Brigade, when it was formed in 1897, was Robert Cordell, aged 53, the proprietor of the Lygon Arms Hotel. He was the natural choice as he was a Parish Councilor and the chairman of the Lighting & Watching Committee, the body which had set up, and had responsibility for running the brigade.
He served as captain for about four years until April 1901 when he tendered his resignation from the brigade.

Upper High Street Broadway c.1910
Upper High Street Broadway c.1910
Following Robert Cordell's resignation The Lighting Committee met, and unanimously resolved to appoint John Jacques junior, another Parish Councillor, to the post of captain. It is obvious that Mr Jacques had not been consulted prior to this decision, as the following week the Committee met again, when the chairman had to report that John Jacques did not wish to take the job. They, therefore, agreed to rescind the previous resolution, and to elect, Parish Councilor and newsagent, James Martin.

James Martin, an ex military man aged 45, was a Cornishman by birth but his wife, Sarah Ann, was a Broadway woman. He had been a sergeant in the Royal Artillery Regiment, and during the previous ten years had moved his family around the British Isles, presumably following his Regiment. They had lived in Weymouth, and had spent at least two years in Douglas, Ireland. James Martin accepted the position, and became Broadway Fire Brigade's new captain.
During his time with the Brigade he appears to have been quite an enthusiastic captain, and submitted many written reports to keep the Committee informed of what was happening. However he seems to have been frustrated when, his requests for additional equipment to improve the efficiency of the Brigade were met with negative responses from the Council. In fact, that was the reason he gave when he finally tendered his resignation in December 1905, after four and a half years as captain.
He wrote" the Council cannot see their way clear to provide the equipment which I have asked for and consider absolutely necessary for the efficient working of the brigade, I have no option but to resign".
After James Martin's resignation the Lighting committee looked for someone to succeed him as captain. Breaking with their previous custom of electing a member of the Parish Council, a number of the Brigade were interviewed for the post. John Cotterell, who was a market gardener, and one of the original 1895 volunteers, was eventually chosen, and was elected as captain in February 1906. He seems to have been well liked, and was described as being a sportsman, playing football for Broadway, and riding to hounds. A member of The Worcester Yeomanry, he was also considered the best shot with rifle or shot gun for miles around.
He remained as captain until August 1920, having completed twenty five years service with the brigade. As stated in an earlier chapter, for fifteen of those years he provided horses for hauling the engine.
Charles Steward
Charles Steward captain of the Broadway Fire Brigade
After considering who should replace John Cotterell, the committee compiled a shortlist of candidates. They agreed to ask Don Russell, of the Lygon Arms Hotel, to be captain, "or failing him, Sidney Fosse [the chemist], then Major Wood". It is not clear whether members of the brigade were consulted prior to the list being drawn up.
No appointment had been made by the end of October 1920. But shortly afterwards their third choice, Major Wood, was appointed captain of the brigade, only to resign, five months later, in March of the following year.

The members of the brigade were then asked if they could suggest someone to be their captain. They proposed Charles Steward, a local builder. It is certain that Charles Steward was not already a member of the brigade, because when he was approached with regard to the post, it was necessary to advise him that brigade members were paid, and that two practices were held each year. Obviously this is something he would have known if he had already been in the brigade [*see note at foot of page]. The fact that a captain was once again being sought from outside the brigade is not particularly surprising. At that time it would be assumed that natural leaders would not have been found amongst the ranks of firemen, who for the most part, were manual workers. All previous captains, and those who had been proposed for the position, whether already brigade members or not, were trades people or in the case of Major Wood, a retired army officer. Even if there had been a fireman who was willing to be promoted to captain, it is probable that he would not have been considered suitable, given the deference to authority and class distinction which prevailed at that time. An attitude, it must be said, which would have been shared by most of the general population, including the firemen themselves.

Charles Steward was offered, and accepted, the job of captain. He served in the post for just under two and a half years until September 1923, when he submitted his resignation to the Parish Council. This followed a meeting of Brigade members which was held at the fire station. At this meeting Harold Keyte, an existing member, was elected captain, but five members of the brigade in addition to Charles Steward expressed a wish to resign. The reason for the mass resignation is not known, although it appears there was no ill feeling, because Mr Steward offered to help instruct any new members, and to assist at any fires which might occur before they were fully trained. To quote from his letter to the Parish Council, "These firemen [those resigning] and myself are willing to help all the new firemen to learn their drill and put them right in everything we know; and if a fire should occur I would give them all the help I can."

Harold Keyte stayed in the post for only eight months until May 1924 before he too tendered his resignation. William Stanley, another of the firemen, seems to have then taken charge, but it is not clear whether he was officially promoted to captain. Two and a half years later, in September 1926, Charles Steward was re-appointed captain, a position he held for about fifteen years until the early part of the Second World War.

* Author's Note: In 2013 I was made aware that a pewter tankard exists, which had been presented to Charles Steward. It bears the inscription, 'Presented to Charles Steward Esq. on his retirement from Broadway Fire Brigade 1911 - 1943'.
This seems to contradict my assertion that Charles was not a member of the brigade when he was elected as captain in 1921. This new evidence points to the fact that he had been a brigade member before 1921, but I still believe that he was not in the brigade at the time of his appointment to captain. It does, however, explain why he was suggested as a candidate by the serving firemen.