The County of Lanarkshire Fire Brigade


Main Stations


Fire Tender Station


There were also Subsidiary Stations at important populous places.



1/2/1911 to 1926                                  Captain Despard
1926 to 1941                                         Firemaster A. Keith



?                        VD3307            Leyland 100' TL        (Lanark County Council)



Brigade formed 1st February, 1911



The new fire brigade for the County of Lanark, to which allugion has been made in our columns from time to time, was successfully inaugurated on Saturday afternoon within the grounds of Hamilton Palace. The brigade has been established by the County Council under the powers conferred on County Authorities by Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1908. Under the scheme, four main stations, each with a petrol motor engine, have been established at Shettleston, Bellshill, Larkhall and Lanark, with a fire tender station Cambuslang and subsidiary stations at important populous places in the county. All important places can be reached within fifteen minutes and outlying districts in less than half an hour, and in any serious conflagration the various brigades will be summoned to supplement the local one.
The demonstration on Saturday took place at the north front of the Palace in the presence of a large and representative gathering of ladies and gentlemen. In addition to the Convener of the County, the County Clerk, County Councillors, and Provosts and magistrates of the various burghs, there were several representatives from other Authorities including Lord Provost M'Innes Shaw of Glasgow; Councillor Moscript, chairman of the Edinburgh Fire Brigade Committee; Bailies Stewart and Douglas, Edinburgh and Firemaster Pordage of Edinburgh. The Duchess of Hamilton and party were also interested spectators of the display. At 1-45, Colonel R King Stewart, the Convener of the County, gave a short inaugural address. Standing on one of the motor engines, the Convener said the County Council of Lanark had long felt that they should have more power to deal with the question of forming a fire brigades. The passing of the Local Government of 1908, gave the County Authorities the power to form brigades of their own or conjointly with other areas. They in Lanark thought they ought to have a fire brigade of their own, and they were in the proud position of being the first County Council in Scotland with it's own fire brigade. (Applause) They hoped to have the brigade in working order and ready to meet any emergency by the 1st of February. Mr Portage, the firemaster of Edinburgh had recommended that the police should used and this had been done. They were very fortunate in having as their Chief Constable, Captain Despard, who had had a good experience of fire brigade duties in England. The Convener was certain that the county fire brigade would be an efficient one.
Captain Despard briefly described the brigade and it's equipment, and outlined the method by which they intended that afternoon to demonstrate the capabilities of the brigade. Owing to the height of the Clyde and the nature of it's banks there, they did not care to bring the water from the river, as they had intended, by way of showing the pumping capacities of the engines, but to make up for this they would force the water from the fountain at the Palace over the same distance viz almost 400 yards.
On a signal from Captain Despard, the members of the brigade, who were lined up immediately in front of the Palace, mounted the four engines and tender. The drivers quickly got the motors in motion, and the engines were each taken to their appointed places. In a remarkably short space of time several powerful jets of water were being poured on the Palace roof. Considering the fact that everything was new, and consequently stiff to work, the men very smartly discharged their duties. By means of scaling ladders, the roof of the Palace was reached, the hose drawn up, and the water applied in a few minutes. Interesting demonstrations were given of the utility of the small first aid hose and of the height to which the brigade would be able to throw the water with the ordinary hose and special nozzle. The height reached was certainly beyond that of any building in Lanarkshire.
At the conclusion of the display, tea was provided in the Riding School and when this refection was over, Colonel R. K. Stewart said he had been deputed by the members of the County Council to say how pleased they were to see so many friends there that day. He was glad to hear that their guests, some of whom were most critical on fire brigade matters, had expressed their satisfaction with the display Captain Despard and his brigade had given. Considering the supply of water they had, the display was very good indeed. The best work was done, perhaps, with the hose taken to the top of the Palace, where they were able to show that their hose could reach a height of 120 feet with the pressure they had. That was a very satisfactory performance. Mr Pordage, the firemaster, had spoken most highly of the efficiency of the brigade and of the engines. In thanking the visitors for their presence, the Convener coupled with the compliment the name of the Lord Provost of Glasgow. (Applause)
Lord Provost M'Innes Shaw, on behalf of the guests, conveyed their thanks to the County Council for the invitation to be present at that interesting demonstration. He congratulated the County on the inauguration of their new fire brigade. It was now absolutely necessary that the best fire appliances should be housed by the county as well as by the towns and it was equally necessary to have the fire brigade with engine on the scene of the fire at once. Glasgow had a very friendly arrangement with the county in connection with fires, and the city had always been very willing to give all the assistance they could on the occasion of fires in the county. But the county had done the right thing in getting a fire brigade of their own and he could say from his experience of the Glasgow fire brigade that the new county brigade was a very efficient one. (Applause) He was delighted with the manner in which the new brigade did it's work that afternoon. That is was performed so efficiently and so well said a great deal for the instruction that had been imparted by Captain Despard. He urged the necessity of frequent practice at fire drill, and he had no doubt Captain Despard would see that that was done. As regards the supply of water, he did not know what the County of Lanark might be doing, but he would say that the communities in the various parts of the county should provide a dam where the brigade might get a considerable supply of water without delay. Again, on behalf of the guests, the Lord Provost thanked the Council for the great courtesy and attention shown to them, and they wished both the Council and the fire brigade the best success. (Applause)
Mr William Neilson, vice convener of the county, said he had been asked to express their indebtedness to the Town Council of Edinburgh for allowing their firemaster, Mr Portage, to come and assist the county and its Fire Brigade Committee. They also thanked Mr Portage for the able services he had rendered to the Council. They were pleased to have with them Councillor Moscript, chairman of the Edinburgh Fire Brigade Committee, and they desired to acknowledge the kindness he and his committee had shown them in connection with the brigade.
Councillor Moscript, in replying, said he was sure the city of Edinburgh were more than delighted to aid the Lanark County Council in this good work. When the matter came up before his committee they unanimously resolved to allow their firemaster to assist the county for all he was worth, for they all know the experience Mr Pordage had in these matters. (Applause)
The proceedings then concluded with a vote of thanks to the convener, moved by Mr Robert Lambie, Larkhall.
(The Hamilton Advertiser, 21/1/1911. Page 4.)



 With the disadvantage of a scattered and wide area, Lanark County Council is proving its fitness to meet the requirements of the communities with as much efficiency as can he attained by authorities whose areas are contiguous and compact. Developments have proceeded so gradually and noiselessly, but so persistently and uniformly, that our county districts are in the enjoyment of most of the blessings procurable, almost without knowing how they came there. To realise what has been achieved, one has to go back some twenty odd years and make a comparison with the things as they were then and are now. Difficulty after difficulty has been attacked and surmounted by the best brains and genius of the county, directed by impelling sympathies and noble aspirations. The spirit that inspired these movements, and the judicious daring that gave them shape and practicability are with us still, and are as active, as real, and as alert as ever they were. The past year has seen realised what at one time were considered the dreams of visionaries.
We have just added to our county equipment, fire brigades that are no less the pride of the people than of County Councillors and officials by whom they have been brought into being. Under the scheme four main stations are established at Shettleston, Bellshill, Larkhall and Lanark, with a fire tender station at Cambuslang. The brigade operates primarily in defined districts, the Shettleston brigade in the Lower Ward, the districts immediately surrounding Glasgow, Cambuslang and East Kilbride; the Bellshill brigade in Bellshill, Bothwell, Uddingston, the Monklands, Blantyre, and East Kilbride; the Larkhall brigade in Larkhall, Glassford, Stonehouse, Avondale, Lesmahagow, Dalziel, Cambusnethan, and Carluke; and the Lanark one in the burghs of Lanark and Biggar, with whom agreements have been entered into. All important populous places can be reached within 15 minutes, and outlying districts in less than half an hour, and in any serious conflagration the various brigades will be summoned to supplement the local one. Each station is equipped with a petrol motor fire engine or pump. The fire engines are each of 75 brake horsepower, capable of developing a speed of at least 35 miles per hour, with four forward and one reverse speeds. The pumps are of the centrifugal turbine type, for which there is claimed, in addition to great efficiency, the advantage of being able to utilise water drawn from sources which may contain mud and sand, without impairing the efficiency or damaging the mechanism. The tests which have been conducted have proved that the minimum standard of 450 gallons per minute, 140lbs. per square inch of pressure and the power to lift water from a source at least 28 feet below the engine and throw a jet of 150 feet can be easily attained. Distance from a water supply is not now insuperable to efficient control of a fire, through it causes delay, for the pumps can, with the hose and appliances provided, operate efficiently within a radius of half a mile. The staff is drawn principally from the police force at each station, augmented by local tradesmen. The police members of the brigade will be immediately available on an alarm, as they are drawn from the members of the police force off duty for the time being. This arrangement, in addition to saving time in turning out, obviates any interference with the members on police duty. Special training of the members of the brigade has been carried out at Edinburgh under Mr. Pordage. Captain Despard, Chief Constable of the County, who has been appointed Firemaster, has had previous experience in England of the duties. In addition there have been appointed an instructor who has been specially trained, and qualified mechanics and drivers. The total cost is estimated at about £13,500, which is equivalent to a rate not exceeding a half penny per farthing on owners and a farthing on occupiers.
In addition to the economy effected by the working of the fire brigades largely through the police, there was a well conceived appropriateness in appointing Captain Despard to be Firemaster, and that appointment afforded all that was lacking to give the new institution the fullest confidence of the public. Captain Despard had brought the Lanarkshire police force to a point of efficiency that elicited the admiration of all classes of the community, and by efficiency we include the cordial relationship that exists between the police and the people, and it was felt that the same high standard of administrative effectiveness would be made to permeate any other undertaking he might be called upon to guide.
The fire brigade commenced work on 1st February, 1911, and have attended over 80 fires. The value of property involved in fire is estimated at £92,324 ; and of that value it is estimated that £66,769 has been saved. The brigade consists of firemaster, instructor, 45 constable-firemen, and 28 civilian firemen-total, 75. Great difficulty has been experienced in dealing with some fires on account of the scarcity of water. On one occasion water had to be pumped from a distance of three-quarters of a mile, and on another, of over half a mile.
The picture on this page shows the County Fire Brigade in front of Hamilton Palace. The Duke and Duchess have taken a great interest in its promotion, and have expressed their admiration at the equipment the county  has provided.
But the interest in the brigade is not confined too any one class. During the year it has had frequent demonstrations in all parts of the county, and, everywhere it went, received the plaudits of the people, who lined the streets in large numbers.
For many years previous to the establishment of the Fire Brigade, Local Authorities were sorely perplexed as to how contingencies of fire could be met without burdening the people.
(Stothers Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Xmas and New Year Annual 1911. Pages 372 & 373.)




For many years previous to the establishment of Fire Brigades within Counties, Local Governments were sorely perplexed as to how contingencies of fire could be met without burdening the people.
The County of Lanark had the disadvantage of a scattered and wide area. In the year 1909, however, Lanarkshire County Council proved its fitness to meet the requirements of the communities with as much efficiency as could be obtained by Authorities whose areas were contiguous and compact. Developments over the years 1909 to 1914 proceeded so gradually and noiselessly that the County Districts were blessed with a fire cover almost without knowing how it came about. Difficulty after difficulty had been attacked and surmounted by the best brains and genius of the County Members and Officials.
What brought all this rapid development?
His Majesty’s Government had debated the Fire Cover of Counties for some time. The result of the debate being a Parliament Bill. The Local Government (Scotland.) Act, 1908, which made it legal binding that County Councils were required to form Fire Brigades.
The Members of the County Council of Lanark had anticipated this Act being made and soon fulfilled their obligations.
The inauguration ceremony of the Lanarkshire County Fire Brigade was held on Saturday, 14th January, 1911 at 1-45 o’clock p.m.
The ceremony and demonstration of Fire Engines took place within the grounds of Hamilton Palace. The Duke and Duchess of Hamilton were the honoured guests. Both expressed their admiration of the equipment the County had provided.
Ranged along the massive stone frontage of the Palace were five new Dennis Engines, capable of 35 miles per hour and a pumping capacity of 450 gallons per minute.
Each engine was equipped with: -
400 yards of hose
30 feet of suction and canvas cistern
40 ft. extension ladder
1 Short extension hatch ladder
Branchpipes, breechings, standpipe, flood lamps, axes, etc.
Life line and jumping sheet. 

The Chief Constable of the County from 1896 to l926 was Captain Despard, C.B.E. who had previous experience of Police/Fire Brigade while serving as a Police Office in one of the Burghs in England. He was a natural choice and the Council Members appointed him as the first Firemaster of the County Fire Brigades.
Prior to the inauguration ceremony taking place, many words were spoken by the Council Members within the walls of the Lanarkshire County Buildings in Glasgow.
Reference to many of the old Minutes make interesting reading during this Jet Age of 1970.
Following close on the Act of 1909, the first reference found is at a Sub Committee – re – Fire Brigades on Wednesday, 5th May, 1909. The Clerk, Mr. Thomas Munro, submitted a communication from the Shettleston Co-operative Society as to the need for establishing a Fire Brigade for the Shettleston and Tollcross District.
The Committee remitted to the Clerk, in consultation with Captain Despard to prepare a plan.
At the next meeting of the Sub-Committee on 5th May, 1909, under the Chairmanship of Councillor James Stewart, the Clerk duly made his statement and after some discussion “the Committee agreed to recommend the County Council that thoroughly efficient Fire Brigades be provided for dealing with outbreaks of fire in the various districts of the County;” the matter was continued in the hands of the Clerk and the Chief Constable.
The Sub Committee further agreed that the County Clerk and Chief Constable be authorised, should they see fit, to take opinion of an expert en the subject.
At the following Sub Committee Meeting on Wednesday, 23rd June, 1909, Captain Despard was in attendance.
The Clerk submitted a report drawn up by himself and the Chief Constable.
Each of the ten Burghs (inclusive of Glasgow, Govan, Partick) had a Fire Establishment with the exception of Lanark which had no engine.
There were four Parish Councils which had voluntary establishments and in addition there were nine private establishments within the County.
“None of the Burgh Fire Brigades are at present under obligation to deal with fire occurring outside the boundaries of the Burgh and it is understood they attend outbreaks in the County only when an obligation to repay the expenditure has been granted by the owner or occupier of the premises at which the fire takes place.”
The population of the County is apportioned thus:-
Whereof in Populous places with over 1,000 inhabitants.
                Upper Ward            42,727                     25,635
                Middle Ward        196,018                   184,953
                Lower Ward            54,585                     40,644
                                                293,585                   251,232 

The valuation of property, excluding lands, minerals, and railways, is approximately, including the Burghs other than Glasgow, £2,327,l74; and exclusive of the Burghs, £800,000.

                The average number of fires since 1905 was:-
                                                Upper Ward                            63
                                                Middle Ward                        293
                                                Lower Ward                            77 

The average annual damage amounted to £26,864.
The report then discussed the benefits for Fire Brigades with motor fire engines being stationed at Divisions throughout the County.
The Fire Brigade Establishment was suggested as:-
                                                One Firemaster
                                                One Fire Instructor
                                                A Fire Superintendent - possibly an Inspector or Sergeant of Police.
                                                Selected number of Police Constables.
                                                Selected number of outside persons.
                                                All would be given payment of a small retaining fee and a fee for drill practice
                                                and attendance at fires.

It was suggested there would be Divisional Establishments at Cambuslang, Larkhall and Bellshill.
The provision of Fire Hydrants had already been foreseen in 1906 and the scheme was now nearing completion.
It was suggested that valuable buildings on high ground where the pressure from the nearest main was inadequate, it would be advisable to provide tanks. The Fire Engine could pump from the main to fill the tank.
Communication between the local Police Stations and Divisional Establishments would be of great importance, as the ordinary postal telegraphic communication is available in the County only during post office hours and in fact only during daylight. “At present there are no telephone cables south of Douglas”.
Firemaster Despard wisely decided to consult Firemaster Pordage of Edinburgh. Edinburgh had been famous for its previous Firemaster, Firemaster Braidwood. Mr. Pordage was already capably following his predecessor.
Firemaster Pordage duly made his report and it was at hand at the Sub Committee Meeting on 22nd September, 1909.
Firemaster Pordage suggested that the County should be divided into four areas of Divisions with centres at Shettleston, Bellshill, Larkhall and Lanark with an effective and complete motor fire engine installation at each.
He suggested the Chief Constable should be Firemaster and at each Division a staff of 12 – 8 Police, 4 Auxiliary Firemen from outside the Force, and a “Mechanician specially engaged to act as chauffeur”.
Each Division to consist of a motor pumping fire engine of a capacity of 450 g.p.m. providing four good fire jets at close quarters, or two, when required to pump from a water supply 300 to 400 yards distant from the fire.
The cost of providing a fire engine – £1,200; Equipment – £31; including hose ladders etc., Fire Station Equipment, helmets, uniform, installation of call bells – £100.
Firemaster Pordage suggested Fire Alarm Points, Hydrants, Inspecting Officers and Fire Drill Instructors.
At a meeting on the 29th September, 1909, the Council approved in general Firemaster Pordage’s report and the Clerk submitted a statement that the cost of the scheme on the rating to the Three Wards would not exceed 1/3 of a penny per £.
The Committee resolved to recommend to the County Council to proceed with the scheme on the general lines of Firemaster Pordage’s report.


Captain/Firemaster Despard, (the method of signature he chose), selected from the Police Force four Officers, two of whom were J. Anderson and G. Lamont, to proceed to Edinburgh to train under Firemaster Pordage.
At Edinburgh, they drilled and attended lectures with the professional fireman. What is more important they ran to fires with the Edinburgh Brigade. On coming back to Lanarkshire, they were now in a position to not only drill and lecture the men but to speak of their experience during fire fighting operations.
As the Fire Engines had been delivered during 1910, the selected Police Officers and Others detailed, the Instructors were able to commence their Duties immediately.
Captain/Firemaster Despard had entered an extensive building programme for Police Stations and either additions to the building or separate buildings were easily inserted in the Plans.
In 1911, the Captain/Firemaster issued Fire Brigade Regulations prior to the inauguration ceremony and this was approved by the Fire Brigade Committee on the 25th January, 1911.


“The Brigade shall consist of:-
One County Firemaster
One Instructor, and
One Clerk to the County Firemaster,
and such number of mechanics and firemen as the County Council may from time to time decide upon.

“There shall be four main Motor Fire Engine Stations, with one Motor Fire Tender Station. While the Brigade will be one for the County as a whole, and in all serious fires the various sections will co-operate, it is intended that each Motor Fire Engine Station shall be complete in itself and be the Fire Brigade for the District which serves one of the four areas mentioned below,

(1) TOLLCROSS STATION — The whole of the Lower Ward Police District, and that portion of the Airdrie Police District in the Parish of Old Monkland covered by the Police Detachments of Carmyle, Broomhouse, Baillieston, and Kirkwood; the Parish of Cambuslang and the Police Detachments of Busby and Thorntonhall in East Kilbride Parish.

(2) BELLSHILL STATION — The Parishes of Bothwell, Shotts, New Monkland, and the parts of Old Monkland Parish not covered by No. 1 Station; also the Parishes of Blantyre, Dalziel, Calderhead, Quoad Sacra Parish of Cambusnethan, and East Kilbride, except as dealt with above.

(3) LARKHALL STATION — The Parishes of Dalserf, Hamilton, Stonehouse, Avondale, Glassford, and that part of the Parish of Cambusnethan not already provided for; also Law Police District in the Parish of Carluke, Blackwood Police District, and the Lesmahagow Police District lying West of the Caledonian Railway via Brocketsbrae.

(4.) LANARK STATION — The whole Upper Ward where not already provided for by No. 3 Station, and the Burghs of Lanark and Biggar.

(5) CAMBUSLANG STATION FOR MOTOR FIRE TENDER For first aid at Cambuslang and immediate neighbourhood, and for carrying additional men and equipment to any fire where required. 

The staff at each of the Fire Stations named shall consist of one Officer in charge (who shall be an Officer of Constabulary), one Deputy Officer in charge, one Mechanic, and ten or fewer Firemen.
In addition to and in supplement of the above mentioned principal Stations, local Sub stations will be established at various centres.
A Local Station shall be in charge of the senior member of the Constabulary at such Station. He shall be responsible to the County Council for the discipline and efficient working of the Brigade.
The following shall be the wages of the Officers and men of the Fire Brigade who are not on the annual salary list, viz:-
                Inspectors or Sergeants                                                                                      4/- per week
                Constables or other persons (except mechanics),                                          2/- per week
In addition there shall be allowed to each Officer and Firemen:-
                For attending each full practice                                                                         2/6.
                For attending each practice alarm                                                                     2/6.
                For attending Fires or Calls, 4/- for first hour and 1/- for each succeeding hour. These allowances shall be inclusive, and no other allowances of any kind will be given.

All wages and allowances will be paid monthly, except the wages of the mechanics, which will be paid weekly.
Every man shall receive such clothing and accoutrements as the Council may think fit, and on resigning or being discharged from the service of the Brigade, he shall deliver up to the Officer in charge, at his Station, every article thereof in good order (reasonable wear and tear excepted). In default he shall pay the full cost of the clothing and accoutrements or such part thereof as the Firemaster may direct.
Every man shall, when on duty at a fire or practice, wear such clothing and have with him such accoutrements as shall be provided for the purpose by the Council; and shall keep such clothing and accoutrements clean, properly repaired, and ready for use.
Each member of the Brigade must obey the orders and directions of his superior officers. In case of disobedience, he shall be dealt with according to the discretion of the Firemaster.
Any officer or fireman neglecting to attend a fire immediately after alarm has been given, or immediately after being warned, or failing to attend a practice (unless prevented by sickness or other unavoidable cause) shall be dealt with as for disobedience of orders.
Every fireman shall give to the Officer in charge at his Station immediate notice of any change of residence, or of intended absence from home for any lengthened period, except in the ordinary course of his occupation.
Any member of the Fire Brigade desirous of resigning his appointment shall give to the Firemaster one calendar month’s notice of his intentions so to do; and any member leaving the service without having given such previous notice shall forfeit any wages or allowances which may then be due to him.
On an alarm sounding the first six firemen, in addition to the mechanic, turning out will be taken as the engine crew, but any other fireman arriving at the garage within five minutes of the alarm will receive pay as for the first hour. The time allowed for turning out may be altered from time to time. To avoid any disputes as to the order of arrival of men each fireman will be furnished with a ring bearing his number, which he will hang on a hook provided for the purpose in the Fire Station.
Only Constables on fire duty will be permitted to turn out for fires except when specially sent for.
Helmets, jackets, belts, and axes will be hung up in the Fire Station, and civilian firemen who turn out for a fire in the day time will be permitted to do so in their ordinary working trousers and boots if they have not been able to obtain their Fire Brigade trousers and boots.
No fireman will be allowed to leave a fire on any pretext without the express permission of the Officer in charge. Should it be necessary for the men to have meals or refreshments, the Officer in charge will make the necessary arrangements, the cost being deducted from the fire allowances of those men who require the meals or refreshments; on no account may intoxicating liquors be taken by firemen when at a fire. 


In all cases the Officer in charge of the local motor fire engine station shall have full charge of and the distribution of all engines and men engaged at a fire within his jurisdiction.
In the case of a fire occurring in any district where the local engine is unable to cope with it, the Officer in charge will call up the next nearest available engine.
Fires occurring in the Burghs of Govan, Patrick, Airdrie, Coatbridge, Hamilton, Motherwell, Wishaw and Rutherglen, the City of Glasgow, or neighbouring counties, should be attended only on the call of the Burgh Firemaster, Chief Constable, or other responsible Officer of the Police or Local Authority.
In the event of any fire being so attended details of the number of men, time occupied, and other expenses, must be carefully kept and forwarded to the Firemaster in order that the expense may be recovered from the Local Authority giving the call.
After a fire has been extinguished no time ought to be lost in getting the engine and all men back to the Station, but it is the first duty of the Officer in Charge to see that the petrol tank is filled up by purchasing petrol on the first opportunity. Hour of departure and return must be carefully noted so that the time each man is engaged may be correctly stated for his allowance claim.
The Officer in charge of any Fire Station is responsible for all the equipment belonging to that Station. An Inventory will be supplied and will be signed by the Officer in charge, and his signature on the Inventory will be held to be a receipt. No alteration of the Inventory will be permitted without the initials of the Firemaster to the alteration.
The Officer in charge will check all articles on charge with the Inventory once a month, and send the following certificate on the last day of each month:-
“I certify that I have today compared the articles in my charge at the Fire Station with the Inventory, and find that they are correct* with the exception of ..........................”
*the last four words to be deleted if the Inventory is correct.
All fire alarms are to be tested every Friday at such time as the Officer in charge finds convenient to all concerned. The test will consist of two short rings as a signal of test, and one long ring as the test. Should any fireman not receive the signal at the prearranged hour, he is to report at once to the Police Office that the signal has failed, otherwise it will be taken that all signals are in good working order.

H.J. DESPARD, Captain, Firemaster 

Hamilton, January, 1911 

25th January, 1911 — Approved by the Fire Brigade Committee
                                                                                                                            THOS. MUNRO, County Clerk. 


The Divisional Fire Engine Station at Shettleston remained operative until the City of Glasgow extended its boundaries in 1912 to include Shettleston and Tollcross.
Captain/Firemaster Despard obtained approval of the Fire Brigade Committee to transfer the Fire Engine at Shettleston to the newly erected Police/Fire Station in Church Street, Cambuslang. The Fire Tender at Cambuslang to be transferred to Bishopbriggs, when the proposed Police/Fire Station was completed.
The Bishopbriggs Station was completed in 1914.
At a County Meeting in February, 1910, the Town Council of the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen asked the County Clerk of Lanarkshire, Mr. Munro, and Chief Constable Despard to form a Fire Brigade in Rutherglen as to the proposed Police/ Fire Brigade in the County.
The County Council Members must have agreed to the suggestion and Captain/ Firemaster Despard also now became the Firemaster of the Rutherglen Burgh.
On the 30th April, 1913, there was a major fire at the Caledonian Pottery, Rutherglen, to which there apparently was some delay in the Steam Fire Engine of the Royal Burgh attending. The outcome of this delay being, at a Meeting of the Town Council on the 29th May, 1913, it was decided that in future the Cambuslang Fire Brigade, in addition to the Rutherglen Fire Brigade had to be notified. Thereafter at all fires within the Burgh of Rutherglen, the Cambuslang Unit attended.
On the 23rd October, 1913, the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen received its first Motor Fire Engine, which replaced the Steam Fire Engine, which in turn was purchased by the Town Council of Denny for £90.


Returning to the history of the County Fire Brigade it has been recorded that during the first year of existance, the Brigades attended over 80 fires within the County. The value of property involved in fire was estimated at £92,324; and of that value it was estimated that £66,769 was saved.
The Brigade consisted of Captain/Firemaster Despard., four instructors, 45 constable firemen and 28 civilian firemen, a total of 79. Great difficulty had been experienced in dealing with some fires on account of the scarcity of water. On one occasion, water had to be pumped from a distance of three quarters of a mile, and on another, over half a mile.
During the year 1911 to 1912, the Brigade had frequent demonstrations in all parts of the County, and everywhere it went received the plaudits of the people, who lined the streets in large numbers.


Captain/Firemaster Despard, Chief Constable of the County of Lanark, retired from the Constabulary in 1926. The Council then appointed Chief Constable A. Keith. The Chief Constable was also appointed Firemaster of the County of Lanark Fire Brigade.
Shortly after the appointment of the new Firemaster, the Burgh of Hamilton decided at a Town Council Meeting that it would be less costly on the ratepayers of the Burgh to retain their own Fire Brigade and to ask the County to take over the responsibility of fire cover within the Burgh.
The County Fire Brigade Committee agreed and during October, 1930, the Hamilton Burgh Fire Engine and equipment were transferred to the County Police Headquarters in Beckford Street. Firemaster Eccleston of the Burgh Brigade did not move with the appliance.
Firemaster A. Keith now found he was responsible for not only fire cover of the County and Rutherglen Burgh, but now in addition the Burgh of Hamilton. The Burghs of Airdrie, Coatbridge,
Motherwell and Wishaw still retained their own Fire Brigades and in fact did so until the National Fire Service was formed on 18th August, 1941.
The fleet of 1911 Fire Engines remained operative until early 1934, the only modification being the replacement of the solid tyres by rubber tyres around 1931.
On the introduction of more stringent regulations governing the braking power of vehicles, Firemaster Keith had his Chief Engineer, G. Cathro, experiment with the Fire Engines to find if the appliance could brake inside the specified distance. The Engines could not come to a stop within the distance, and the Firemaster had to report his findings to the Fire Brigade Committee.
The Committee must have authorised the expenditure of new appliances and the Dennis Engines were replaced by Leyland Fire Engines over the period from 1934 to 1937.
It is of interest to note that the Lanarkshire County Fire Brigade had the first Emergency Tender Appliance. This appliance had a Morris Chassis and Engine, on which was placed a timber and metal body.
The Appliance carried an oxyacetylene cutting set, crow bars, saws, axes, flood lamps with 800 yards of cable and a 110 volt dynamo, two Salvus breathing apparatus, and seats with lockers to carry hose. This appliance trailed a Dennis Fire Pump. This pump set up what must be a record. When engaged in fire fighting operations at the Clyde Paper Mill, Rutherglen, it pumped for 14 days without stopping.
With the increase of height in buildings within the County, a Leyland Metz Turntable Ladder was delivered to the Brigade in 1934 and stationed at Police Headquarters in Beckford Street, beside the Fire Engine, which the Burgh of Hamilton had transferred to the County Brigade in 1930.
The first of the two original Appliances of 1911 were, when replaced with the
Leyland appliances, handed over to Hartwood Hospital and Hairmyres Hospital where in both instances they were manned by the staff of the Hospital.


During Firemaster Keith’s term of office saw the introduction of the Auxilliary Fire Service in 1938, with an increased Establishment strength of the Brigade and the training of the new recruits
At first the response to the call of the A.F.S. was poor, but with the aid of the newspapers, by the time war was declared on 3rd September, 1939, the full Establishment had been almost reached and the necessary Fire Stations either founded or in the process of being erected.
When the Government formed the National Fire Service on the 18th August, 1941, Firemaster Keith was allowed to remain as Firemaster until December, 1939??? in order that he could complete his building programme.
The County of Lanark Fire Brigade ceased to exist during December, 1939. The Police no longer ran to fires and the Brigade was absorbed into the National Fire Service within the area covered by Western No. 1.
(Type from an article in File TD1431/46/2 at the Mitchell Library.)




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