WISHAW FIRE BRIGADE
1902 to ? Superintendent Morrison
<1921 to 1923 Firemaster Walker
1902 3 Barrows
1907 Hose Carrier
1921 Manual Fire Appliance
In 1920 amalgamated with Motherwell Fire Brigade to form the Motherwell and Wishaw Fire Brigade
Notes taken from the minutes of Wishaw Burgh Council.
4th December 1901 – Council proposed
forming a fire brigade, as there was now a copious supply of water in the burgh.
12 firemen to be appointed including a superintendent all tradesmen to be
council employees if possible. A plate embossed with the word Fireman to be
placed on the wall of the firemen’s house. Men to be equipped with a coat,
helmet, and a belt with a hatchet
Retained fee of 30 shillings [£1.50] per annum and 5 shillings [25p] for first 4 hours at a fire and then 1 shilling [10p] per hour
3 barrows equipped with 200yds. of hose, ladders and other equipment to be purchased and stationed at Wishaw, Cumbusnethan and Craigneuk Police Stations
April 1902—Fire appliances arrived from Shand Kidd.
May 1902—Superintendent Morrison appointed and Fire Brigade constituted.
Superintendent reports that from 1st May 1902 to 1st May 1903 the brigade attended four fires.
July 1903—Firemen asked for a supply of trousers.
December 1903—Firemen asked for boots to be provided. Retained fee raised to £4 per annum.
August 1904—Council considered purchasing a motorised fire engine.
April 1905— Council again considered purchasing a motorised fire engine
October 1906— Plans drawn up to build a fire station in M’Alpine Street at a cost of £3,965.
December 1906— Mr. J. Watson offered hall and buildings in Young Street for £2,050 for conversion to fire station.
March 1907— Mr. Watson’s offer turned down. Decided to purchase horse drawn Hose Carrier for £100. Local carriage hirer to be approached for hire of horses. Electric bell to be fitted to connect Firemaster’s house with hirer D & A Fyffe.
March 1907—Agreed to allow brigade to be used outside burgh, occupier of property involved to be liable for cost.
September 1907 — New hose carrier purchased for £97.12. 0. Electric bells fitted to fireman’s houses.
July 1908 — Firemaster’s report. 1st May 1902 to 1st May 1908 brigade attended 53 fires in the burgh and 3 outwith, estimated damage £6,846.
April 1909 — Proposed buying two horses.
August 1910 — Decided not to buy horses but continue hiring.
November 1911 — Proposed buying motor fire engine.
August - 1913 Delayed purchasing motor fire engine pending amalgamation with Motherwell.
Carried on with horse drawn manual engine based at Wishaw Police Office till amalgamation with Motherwell.
Above information retrieved from minutes of Wishaw Fire Brigade Committee by Bob Mudie ex Station Officer Lanarkshire Fire Brigade.
WISHAW BURGH FIRE BRIGADE
Wishaw became a burgh as early as 1854; before that date it may have been known as Dunsdale or Stewarton. The Burgh, however, did not form a Fire Brigade until May, 1902, a lapse of time of forty eight years. No doubt some fires occurred during those years, but no mention of any can be found in the Burgh Records.
Referring to the Minutes of the Town Council, the first mention of purchasing a Fire Engine is found in the Water Committees Meeting of the 28th March, 1898, when an initial order for Fire Plug Hydrants had been granted to Glenfield and Kennedy.
The main problem presenting the slowly growing town was the lack of an adequate water supply. Timber pipes had to be laid from the pond at Coltness Works, Newmains, Netherton Steel Works and other ponds all located a short distance from the town.
(It is of interest to note that in 1967 during the demolishing of the Restorations Building on Main Street, after a fire, timber pipes were discovered under a hidden basement).
With the introduction of iron water pipes at the end of the century, reservoirs were made in the catchment areas in the Upper Ward of the County of Lanark. In due course, the water mains became a profitable asset to the Burgh as towns, railway stations and works along the route of the main asked for water supplies.
At a Monthly Meeting of the Town Council on the 11th July, 1898, there was a proposal of selecting a building in Bellhaven Road as a suitable location for housing a Fire Engine. It was further proposed that telephone communications be established between the Fire Engine House, the Police Offices at Wishaw, Cambusnethan, Craigneuk and then to the Burgh Buildings in Main Street.
The proposal was not carried and. the matter rested meantime.
The subject was again raised at a Meeting on the 26th July, 1900, when a resolution was passed to purchase a Steam Fire Engine at a cost of £400. This Engine was guaranteed to deliver 200/250 g.p.m. of water through a director (i.e. Branch) and the jet would reach a height of 140 feet when passing through 13/16 inch hose however, at a following Meeting of the 27th November, 1900, the purchase of the Steamer was delayed pending the completion of the new water main from the Daer Reservoir.
It took over a year before a further decision was made at a Meeting on the 4th December, 1901, that a barrow with 200 yards of hose, stand pipe and directors should be purchased. The barrow and equipment to be located at the three Police Offices serving the town.
The establishment of the Brigade would consist of: - One Superintendent of Fire Brigade and twelve Auxiliary Firemen. Each member of the Brigade to be equipped with a coat, helmet, belt and hatchet and all to have a metal badge marked “Fireman”. Retaining payment to amount to thirty shillings per year, providing each man turned out for training at least four times during the year. On the initial call, the turnout fee for fire calls would be five shillings for four hours, plus one shilling per hour thereafter. Men cleaning up fire engine, hose, standpipe after a fire would be paid at the rate of one shilling.
The Burgh Surveyor to be instructed to prepare a chart showing the location of the fire plugs and to indicate on the walls, the position of the Hydrant.
This was all agreed to by the Town Council on the 9th December, 1901. The equipment was ordered on the 19th December, 1901, and delivered during April, 1902.
At their Monthly Meeting on the 6th January, 1901, the Council decided that Superintendent of the Fire Brigade and seven Part time Auxiliary Firemen/Tradesmen would be appointed to man the Fire Brigade.
Advertisements were placed in the papers for the posts. Applications for the post of Superintendent were received from James Purdie, Motherwell, Arthur Walker, Shotts and James Walker, 24, Albert Street, Govan.
The decision to appoint James Walker as Superintendent was made at a Meeting of the 10th February, 1902. The wage for the post would be thirty shillings per week, with free house, light and uniform.
Superintendent James Walker was duly appointed on the 1st May, 1902.
Mr. Walker took up residence in a house at the West Cross and later at a house in Hill Street, Wishaw.
Superintendent Walker was appointed as a full time Serving Officer and part of his duties consisted of:—
(a) Inspection of the Lodging Houses as to Means of Escape and sanitation.
(b) Reporting on the condition of the thatched roofs in Main Street, Low Mains Street, Meadow Rows, West Thornlie Street, Stewarton Street, Caledonian Road, Kirk Road and the Coltness Estate.
(c) He had full powers to report to the Council on improvements desired at the Lodging Houses and the thatched roofs, and to the Sanitation Committee on sanitation.
(d) Visitations from house to house to examine the water fittings
(e) Oiling and cleaning of the Fire Plug Hydrants
(f) Maintenance of the three Barrows, hose and equipment
(g) When once fire extinguishers did become available, an additional duty was to locate them in a suitable position and maintain them regularly.
(j) Inspection of the Towns sanitation mains.
The Sub Committee of the Fire Brigade met around every three months when a Report from the Firemaster was read on any fires occurring during the period.
They passed accounts such as payment to the Auxiliary Firemen and additional expenditure for clothing, oil for lamps, buckets, hose, etc.
The first duty of Firemaster Walker was to locate the Barrows and equipment at strategic points throughout the Burgh. He was guided in this by the Town Council. The Handcarts were sited to obtain the quickest mobilising possible at the following locations:—
1. WISHAW POLICE OFFICE:
1 Hand Cart, 1 Hand Pump, 2 Stand Pipes, 2 Directors, 1,200 ft. of hose.
2. RECEPTION HOUSE, CRAIGNEUK:
1 Hand Cart, 1 Hand Pump, 2 Stand Pipes, 2 Directors, 600 ft. of hose.
3. CAMBUSNETHAN POLICE OFFICE:
1 Hand Cart, 1 Hand Pump, 2 Stand Pipes, 2 Directors, 600 ft. of hose.
Superintendent Walker made up Rules and Regulations for the Fire Brigade and copies of the Rules were sent to each member of the Town Council before the Monthly Meeting of the 8th September, 1902.
Unfortunately no Record of the Rules and. Regulations presented is at hand.
Mr. Walker's duties kept him fully occupied as is revealed at a Meeting of the 22nd October, 1906.
The Superintendent had reported that at many of the Lodging Houses he had found doors locked; the inmates smoking in their cubicles; no telephones between the Lodging Houses and the Police Offices. Lodging House Keepers to be recommended to have fire buckets and fire extinguishers on each floor level.
The Council agreed to his findings and they were duly put into effect.
Firemaster Walker had his share of lack of communications. At a Meeting during May, 1905, following a fire at 137, Craigneuk Street, on the 2nd May, the Firemaster’s Report was read and it included that the Firemaster had not received the call until 1½ hours after the fire had started.
The result of the Meeting was that the Town Council instructed the Firemaster to draw up Regulations as to what the Police were required to do in the event of receiving a fire call at the Office or seeing a fire take place or reported to.
The town was increasing in size and population and the Town Council, at a Meeting on the 6th September, 1907, placed an order for a Hose Carriage at a cost of £79: 12/-. Arrangements were made with T. Hunter, Main Street, Wishaw who was a Carriage Hirer, to have a pair of horses always in readiness in case of fire. The cost of the hire of two horses to be 8/- per first hour, 6/- for the second hour and 4/- thereafter.
(The Hose Carriage had a small pump which was manually operated by metal handles along the length of the Carriage. During daylight hours, whenever there was a fire call, the young boys of the town joyfully manned the handles. It prevented them from being chased away by the Police. At night there was any number of adult volunteers to man the handles.)
The Town Council at the Meeting on the 5th December, 1907, agreed to placing fire bells in the Firemaster’s house and the houses of the members of the Brigade. Even after this innovation, trouble on receiving fire calls quickly enough still persisted. The Town Clerk was instructed to advertise in the papers what the public should do in the event of a fire. Messengers from the fire should be sent to the Police Office nearest the call or to the Firemaster’s house in Hill Street.
At the same Meeting, a letter from the Lanarkshire County Council Water Superintendent of the Middle Ward pointed out that there was a difference in the Fire Hydrants within the Burgh and the Ball Hydrants in the County. The Water Superintendent offered to supply stand pipes and fittings to suit the Burgh hose to allow the Wishaw Brigade to attend fires outwith the Burgh.
The Town Council agreed to this proposal providing the Burgh services were not required within the Burgh and that the County Authorities paid the expenses incurred on the same scale as the charges made by other Burghs.
Fires outwith the Burgh were charged as follows:-
Superintendent £1: -: -d
Firemen 5/- for 1 hour, plus 2/6d. thereafter per hour.
Horses and Driver As per Carriage Hirers Account
Fire Engine & Hose £2 plus any damage to Hose Carriage or Hose.
Cleaning Engine 1/- per hour.
The Town Council stated that additional expenses would also be recovered from the proprietors of the property on fire.
At a Monthly Meeting on the 1st July, 1908, a Report from the Firemaster makes interesting reading. It was a Summary of all the fires throughout the Burgh and District which had occurred since the inauguration of the Brigade in 1902.
FIRES WITHIN FIRES WITHOUT LOSS
THE BURGH THE BURGH
1st May, 1902 — 1903 4 0 £2,021: -: -d.
1903 — 1904 9 0 £2,440: -: -d.
1904 — 1905 5 1 £ 76: -: -d.
1905 — 1906 9 0 £1,354: -: -d.
1906 — 1907 17 0 £ 573: -: -d.
1907 — 1908 9 2 £ 382: -: -d.
53 3 £ 6,846: -: -d.
The causes of fire are listed:—
(a) Children playing with torches
(b) Wooden dooks driven into Vents and setting fire to the wooden linings.
(c) Fire caused by oil lamps
(d) Fire caused by candles
(e) Vents on fire
(f) Fire caused by carelessness of the occupants of houses or warehouses.
Mention is made in a Fire Brigade Committee Meeting on the 23rd March 1912, that the Committee had granted permission to Scoutmaster G. Gilmour for his Scouts to be trained by the Firemaster in such things as extinguishers, hose running, etc.
The subject of purchasing a motor fire engine was proposed at a Meeting on the l4th April, 1913, and again on the 8th September, 1914. No agreement could be reached at any of the Meetings.
The Town Council at a Meeting on the 29th August, 1913 instructed the Town Clerk to negotiate with the Lanarkshire County Council to find the lowest terms for providing Wishaw with a Fire Brigade, either by way of a lump sum or the price per visit.
The subject was again raised at a Meeting on the 9th March, 1914, and it was suggested there should be an annual payment, to the County Council of ½d. per £1 assessable rental of the Burgh to be levied equally upon owners and occupiers. This offer could not have been accepted by the County Council.
There was a major fire at the premises of J. Gourlay, J. Cameron and E. Dalgliesh, and Captain/Firemaster Despard of the County Brigade forwarded an account of £11:5/- for services rendered by his Brigade at the fire. The Town Council resolved to repudiate liability.
On the 15th November, 1915, Captain/Firemaster Despard, through the County Clerk, requested the Wishaw Town Council to purchase a Fire Engine. The Town Council would not agree to this and the present arrangements between the County and the Burgh should remain meantime. This could have been the arrangements between the Lanarkshire County Council Water Superintendent, as had been agreed upon at the Meeting of the 5th December, 1907.
The Lanarkshire County Police had policed the Burgh since the beginning but the Burgh decided to have a Police Force of its own in 1916. The result was that Captain Despard instructed the Town Council to remove the Fire Engine and Equipment from the Police Office at Cambusnethan. The Town Council did so and erected a Fire Engine House at the Burgh Stables in Station Road.
World War I had started in 1914 and the Town Council agreed to release a number of the Firemen to Serve the Colours. They were good enough to continue to pay them their Annual Retaining Fee throughout the war years. There was no difficulty in filling the places of the men overseas and the Brigade Establishment was kept up to strength.
When the war was over there appears for the first time in the Minutes at a Meeting on the 22nd. May, 1919, the proposal for a Conference to be held with the aim of forming the amalgamation of the Burgh of Motherwell with the Burgh of Wishaw.
The amalgamation of Motherwell and Wishaw Burghs became effective during 1920.
Firemaster Walker remained in charge of the Wishaw Unit and Firemaster Purdie at Motherwell.
It was not until the Joint Committees appointed Firemaster Francis Cormack, a professional Fireman, to the appointment as Firemaster of the Motherwell and Wishaw Fire Brigade on the 22nd August, 1922, that the first major changes took place.
The Motor Fire Engine ordered by the Joint Committees arrived at Motherwell on the 15th May, 1923, and from then on Firemaster Cormack was in sole command of the Motherwell and Wishaw Fire Brigade.
Firemaster Walker still remained at Wishaw but only turned out to fires if requested by Firemaster Cormack.
(Type from an article in File TD1431/46/2 at the Mitchell Library.)
I am unable to say when Wishaw Fire Brigade was first formed, but during the Period 1914 – 1918 the Fire Service was housed at 23 Station Road, Wishaw. The original doors of this Station are still standing, and the building is now being used by the Burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw Cleansing Department.
During the 1914 – 1918 period the Fire Engine was horse drawn, and the horses were supplied by Tom Hunter of the Royal Hotel Stables, Main Street, Wishaw. The site of the Royal Hotel, which is now demolished, is occupied by the new three storey departmental store belonging to T. Baird & Sons Ltd., Wishaw. The Firemen of these days were volunteers who were employed at the Glasgow Iron and Steel Works, Berryhill, Wishaw. The Steel Works are now demolished, and the Wishaw Gas Works stand on part of the site.
At the time of the amalgamation of the two Burghs I assume that a joint Fire Service was set up in Motherwell.
(A memorandum from Firemaster John Stewart, Q.F.S.M. to Divisional Officer A. Brown on the 26th October, 1970, on the subject of Wishaw Fire Brigade.)
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