KILBARCHAN FIRE BRIGADE
KILBARCHAN’S FIRE FIGHTING CARRIAGE
Fighting Carriage was built in London in the year 1723 and was brought to
Kilbarchan horse drawn by road and gifted to the village from the estate of the
Laird of Milliken in the year 1765.
It was later placed under the ownership and control of Kilbarchan General Society which was initiated by a Bond of Association in that year and which to this day operates as an active organisation.
The Kilbarchan Fire Fighting Service operated extensively in and around Kilbarchan from 1765 to 1892.
In 1892 it was arranged with the Parochial Board to place the carriage in retirement in that part of the Steeple-Building, Kilbarchan, below the Ladies Room. Custody continued at the Steeple under the Parish Council and from 1930 to 1957 under the District Council.
Due to restoration works at the Steeple Buildings the Carriage was removed in 1957 to the. Cleansing Department premises at Low Barholm, Kilbarchan. Unfortunately it underwent severe deterioriation.
In the early sixties the District Council arranged with the Western Fire Brigade at Johnstone to take over temporary custody hence the carriage duly arrived at its present abode, Port Glasgow Fire Station.
Commencing in May 1979 this appliance underwent major renovation at the Skill Centre in Port Glasgow. This work took approximately ten months. The colours you see in it today are the original colours from 1723.
(Undated typed piece of paper.)
1756 to 1892 Unknown
1892 to 1957 manual was kept in the Steeple Building, Kilbarchan. Photo taken 24/8/1998
KILBARCHAN FIRE BRIGADE
Village raises alarm to save its veteran fire engine
By JOHN EASTON
FEARS are growing that the ancient fire engine of
the old-world Renfrewshire village of Kilbarchan could end
up as a pile of firewood unless it finds a proper home.
The apparatus, which was once drawn by horses, is reputed to have been brought to Kilbarchan in 1765, which coincidentally was the year of the formation of the Kilbarchan General Society, initially set up as a Bond of Association signed buy 24 heritors, merchants and tradesmen.
Recently the historic engine has been given refuge in the fire station at Port Glasgow by courtesy of Strathclyde Fire Brigade, but it is being exposed to extremes of hot and cold and is unlikely to survive the strain.
The appliance is still owned by the Kilbarchan society, but was offered shelter by the Strathclyde brigade because there was no suitable place to house it in the village. It was formerly stationed at the lower part of Kilbarchan Steeple, which was called the "meal market".
Assistant Divisional Officer Jim Gamble, based at Johnstone fire headquarters, said yesterday the fire engine was being kept in the appliance room at Port Glasgow. However, it was open to the elements and such an artefact should not he "treated like that".
He said: "Curators from various museums have been to have a look at it. The wood is starting to dry out and we are afraid that it will end up as a pile of firewood. There was a possibility that it might be taken to new fire brigade headquarters at Hamilton, but the Kilbarchan society is anxious that it be returned to the village or the surrounding district.
"We are back in discussion with the society and are trying to work together for the future well-being of a priceless item of fire brigade history, which could he lost forever. It is of great historical interest and ought to be preserved in a proper environment."
The Kilbarchan fire engine first earned prominence in 1823 when it was rushing to a fire at Linwood Cotton Mills and was stopped at the Deaf-hill Toll, where it was charged a 9d toll when the usual charge was 3d.
An action was subsequently taken to court, but the prosecution stopped when the toll-keeper agreed to pay back 6d plus expenses.
In 1848 Captain Stirling, who commanded HMS Ferre which escorted the Bellerophon when conveying Napoleon to St Helena, paid £2 for the use of the engine at a fire at his home at Toonfoot.
Ten years later, costs for a fire at St Brides Mill, Faulds are listed as including 15/6d for spirits and refreshments for helpers, 1d for a boy going from Faulds to Kilbarchan to collect the spirits and return and 5/- for the hire of a horse to draw the fire engine
Mr Drew Connell, of the Kilbarchan General Society, said " The historic engine returns to Kilbarchan once a year for our Lilias Day fair.
"The villagers want it back as a permanent showpiece. When the society decided to pass it over to Strathclyde fire service there was a public outcry, and kids even went about with badges proclaiming Save our Fire Engine"
" The big problem is where to put it. We are pinning our hopes on a new community centre which has long been promised but has been held up because of the local authority cuts.
" I even contacted the people at the new Transport Museum at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall, but they didn't seem terribly interested."
From The Glasgow Herald 2/5/1988.
The horse drawn Kilbarchan Fire Engine was purchased for the village in 1765 by the Front Society and was kept in the Steeple. The Front Society charged according to the Frontage of a property and if you required the service of the Fire Engine you paid £2 scotch for a small and £5 scotch for a large fire, although there was argument about the size of a fire and after a dispute at a flour mill fire the owner stopped up a spring supplying a well. When the Front Society disappeared it was taken over by the General Society. In The Civic Society's photo albums in the Kilbarchan Library there is a photo of the Engine washing down the statue of Habbie Simpson, a local worthie, on the steeple although not much of the engine can be seen. The engine is now kept in the transport museum in Kelvin Hall, Glasgow.
From The Kilbarchan Civic Society.
The Kilbarchan Fire Engine was replaced either before or on the formation of The West Renfrewshire Fire Brigade which was instituted in 1913 with a Fire Station in Johnstone housing a Dennis motor Fire Engine crewed by a Firemaster, Deputy and four firemen. They in turn would have been absorbed in 1941 into The National Fire Service until 1948 when control was handed back to the local authorities and The Western Area Fire Brigade was formed and remained until local government reorganisation in 1974 when it was amalgamated with The Glasgow Fire Service, Central Area Fire Brigade, South Western Area Fire Brigade, and Lanarkshire Fire Brigade to form Strathclyde Fire Brigade.
The Fire Engine and apparatus are lodged in the Steeple Buildings. Keys are to be found at Alexander Fullarton's, Hugh Gavin, and John Climie (Engine keeper). 1834/35.
James Adams, station master at Kilbarchan, is relieved the town’s old fire engine is no longer their main piece of equipment on March 10, 1962 (Photo TP505-02 in the Evening Times 'Times Past' Supplement Part 5, 999 Glasgow, Tuesday September 20 2005)
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