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The Joint Fire Brigade 1933

In 1933 the Broadway brigade became part of a new fire authority which was set up jointly by the Evesham and the Pershore Rural District Councils. This new brigade, known as The Evesham & Pershore Rural District Councils Joint Fire Brigade, was formed following concern about the poor standard of fire protection in the area.
Evesham Rural District Council (RDC) had earlier approached Evesham Town Council, and suggested the Town Council's fire engine might be used to provide fire cover for the rural district as well as Evesham borough. Protracted negotiations followed, but the Town Council was unwilling to cover the Rural District Council's area without payment. They wanted Evesham R.D.C. to pay an annual fee of £230 as a retainer.

The Joint Brigade's letterhead
Alternatively they would be prepared to attend fires in the rural area only when not required in the borough, and would charge the full normal fee, as per their scale of charges, for their services.
The R.D.C. was unwilling to pay either a retainer or any other fees because, as they pointed out, the Town Council's costs following any fire their brigade attended in the rural area would be paid to them by the company with which the property was insured. (Insurance companies were still, at this time, paying fire brigades for their services). That would have raised additional income for the Town brigade, without incurring additional costs for either council, but they were unable to reach an agreement.

Their inability to agree was unfortunate, as the modern motorised fire engine stationed at Evesham, together with the pumps at Broadway, and at other villages, would have provided reasonable cover, by the standards of the day, for the whole area. It's understandable, however, that the Evesham Town councillors would be reluctant to let their expensive modern machine attend fires in the rural area, only to leave their ratepayers with reduced fire cover.
In the event Evesham Rural District Council and the neighbouring Pershore Rural District Council joined forces, and decided to form a brigade of their own. A committee consisting of members from both councils was appointed to organise the new brigade. The existing fire station at Pershore was thought to be an ideal building for the headquarters. Pershore Parish Council was happy to hand it over, free of charge, to the Joint Committee along with their engine and all other equipment.

It was agreed that a new pump would be purchased, and the existing engine at Pershore, a Shand Mason steamer in good working order, would be kept as a standby. With this in mind a group of councillors, in February 1933, visited Droitwich Fire Brigade, and were most impressed by a demonstration of a Gwynne "Invincible" trailer pump with a nominal output of 240 gallons of water per minute. A Pershore councilor reported that it could be drawn behind a motor car at sixty miles per hour! A questionnaire was sent to parish councils in the area, requesting details of existing fire fighting equipment, and asking for co-operation in the new undertaking.
The Joint Committee made it clear that they did not want to interfere with the existing control of parish brigades, but, ‘wished to work together to ensure maximum efficiency.' Broadway Parish Council was happy to consent to this arrangement, and agreed to allow the R.D.C.’s Joint Committee to use their station for a nominal rent.
Pershore's Shand Mason Steam Fire Engine
Pershore's Shand Mason steam fire engine
A trailer pump was purchased for the new Brigade by the Joint Committee, to be stationed at Pershore fire station. A Wolsey car was offered to them as a towing vehicle. This offer was accepted, and the vehicle was suitably converted. On 11th May 1933, the new trailer pump was successfully demonstrated at Cropthorne in front of a large group of spectators. Five days later Pershore's steamer was got to work on the Weir Meadow, under the captaincy of Ben Hitchcock, for the benefit of the District councillors. The nominal output of the steamer at 380 gallons of water per minute was greater than that of the new trailer pump but the new pump was lighter and more versatile.
The Broadway fire brigade with it's manual engine, while still belonging to the parish, was now under the financial and operational control of The Evesham and Pershore Rural Districts Joint Fire Brigade Committee. This remained the situation until 1941 when, as described in a later section, all fire brigades in the country became part of the National Fire Service. Despite their earlier disagreements, both the Evesham Town Council and the Rural District Council were soon able to report that they had assisted each other at a fires in each other's areas.
During the period of Joint Committee control Broadway suffered two major fires; the destruction of Gordon Russell's cottages in 1934, and the loss of Titchmarsh and Hunt's buildings in 1939 (go to the Home page and click on 'Fires 1759-1939' for full accounts). Following both of these incidents there were calls to improve fire fighting facilities in the village. After the fire at Gordon Russell's the Parish Council asked the Joint Fire Brigade Committee to, immediately, supply the Broadway brigade with six hundred yards of good hose, and a siren for calling out the firemen. They also asked for stanks (dams) to be built across the brook to provide a reservoir of water for fire fighting. The Fire Brigade committee, for their part, first in 1935 and again in 1937, requested permission to erect a device for drying hose at Broadway fire station, as the hose at Broadway was becoming mildewed and failing prematurely. On both occasions Broadway Parish Council was reluctant to allow this, believing children would interfere with the apparatus. Their reluctance was to some extent justified as there had been a problem with vandalism in the nearby recreation ground. This, however, provided the Parish Council with a convenient excuse not to allow the building of anything as unsightly as a drying tower. In an attempt to improve the call out system an electrically powered siren was fitted to the roof of the police station in the late 1930s.

The Joint Fire Brigade's motor fire engine c.1933
By 1939, when Titchmarsh & Hunt's premises, in Childswickham Road, were destroyed by fire, virtually nothing, with regard to the Broadway brigade, had changed since its formation in 1897. The Merryweather manual fire engine was, by this time, forty-two years old, and in a poor state of repair. Following the fire there was, as there had been in 1934, a public outcry, about the poor fire fighting facilities provided for the village. The Parish Council wrote to the Joint Fire Brigade Committee expressing their concern, and suggested that the Merryweather engine should either be scrapped or put in a museum. The Committee wrote back to the Parish Council on 26th June 1939 informing them that a large Gwynne trailer pump had already been ordered for the Broadway brigade. It was being provided on the understanding that it would be used to cover the villages on the east side of Evesham as well as Broadway itself. Also, the committee said it intended to meet Charles Steward, the captain of the brigade, to discuss the question of towing the pump. They hoped that his lorry would be used for hauling the new pump as it had been for the Merryweather.

So ended the era of the manual pump, not only in Broadway but throughout the country. Broadway's manual fire engine, still in use during the summer of 1939, was one of the last to see active service anywhere.
The Joint Fire Brigade Committee did not agree that the old manual should be scrapped or put into a museum.
They wrote to the Parish Council saying, "..While it is not suitable as a first line fire fighting appliance it may yet prove useful as a reserve, especially in a national emergency". In fact the manual was never used again, and was left to rot in an orchard.