1 Pump Retained.




? to?

? to 1955                         Premises belonging to a butcher

30/4/1955                        Lesmahagow Road, STRATHAVEN. ML10 0DT.            Photo





? to 30/9/1971 Sub Officer W. McKay
16/11/1971 to ? Sub Officer D. Hamilton
? to ? Sub Officer J Murphy
? to ? Sub Officer G Redmond
? to ? Sub Officer Jim Kyle
? to ? Sub Officer Rab Scott
9/10/1998 Sub Officer Sam Reid
2001 to Acting Sub Officer Jim McNulty
Sept 2001 Acting Sub Officer Karen Graham
8/11/2002 Sub Officer J McNulty (L/Ff promoted Sub/O) (there 2015)




1891   Wheel Barrow Hand Cart  
1971 AVD280J Dennis F45/Dennis/LFB WrT
1976 VDS106R Dennis D/Dennis WrT
1990 EGD271X Bedford KG/CFE WrL
1994 D195PGD Scania 82M/Fulton and Wylie WrL
1998 J165GUS Scania G93M-210/Emergengy One WrL
2003 M907DDS Scania 93M-220/Emergency One RPL
2010 November 18 SF54RPZ Scania 94D-260/Saxon RPL
2013 October SF58ANU Scania P270/JDC RPL



1857?? to 1941 Strathaven Fire Brigade ?
1941 to 1948 National Fire Service
1948 to 1975 Lanarkshire Fire Brigade
1975 to 2005 Strathclyde Fire Brigade
2005 Strathclyde Fire & Rescue (Name change only.)




The Lanarkshire Fire Area Administration Scheme Order, 1948

  Equipment Retained
  1 Towing Vehicle 1 Leading Fireman
  1 Large Trailer Pump 9 Firemen


Establishment 2000






1 Water Tender Ladder

1 Sub Officer



1 Leading Firefighter



8 Firefighters




Strathaven was the largest village during the 18th Century within the Parish of Avondale. It has been famed for providing the inhabitants with some method of attempting to extinguish fires from around 1800 A.D. The village was blessed with three constant open water supplies. The River Avon, the burn Pormillion and numerous water wells within easy reach.
No doubt the earliest method of fire fighting was by volunteers from the residents with buckets. Water was drawn from whichever of the three supplies was the nearest, and a line of volunteers formed between the supply and the fire, the buckets being passed from hand to hand along the line. An early model of a wheel hand cart has been found and it has hooks on which buckets could be hung.
The community of the village was enterprising. Among the industries of the 18th Century could be found Cotton Mills, a Tannery, Corn Mills, Wood Flour Mill and Hosiery Factories, the latter being assisted by the home hand loom weaving of fabrics. A further industry was the digging for iron ore from the Muirkirk Hills; the ore being transported by carts to Dixon Blazes in Glasgow.
Quoting from a book written by John Brown, M.A., on “Modern Strathaven” reference is made to a number of fires which occurred within and without the village over the past 150 years. The first mentioned fire being the Cotton Mill. On Sunday, 11th November, 1811, fire broke out within the mill, being of the construction of stone walls and thatched roof, it was not long before the building became a major conflagration. The inhabitants rushed with their buckets to the fire and quickly a line was formed from the River Avon. Despite their strenuous efforts the mill was destroyed.
The Cotton Mill was erected in 1771 by four gentlemen of Strathaven and employed 70 to 80 persons. It was used to produce, from Dutch grown flax, the spinning and weaving of fabrics. The loss of the Mill was the loss of the village as it was found it would be far too costly to rebuild.
A second industry where fire occurred, was the Strathaven Town Mill which is over 400 years old. This Mill nestles under the eye of the ruined Strathaven Castle, which dates from around 1400 A.D.
The Town Mill has had several owners over the centuries, the last owner being James McGregor of Garrion. There were a number of minor fires within the Mill but it was not until 1831 that the original building was destroyed by fire. This time, however, it was rebuilt, and in doing so the opportunity was taken to add another storey and to replace the original thatched roof by one of slates. At the same time the diameter of the water wheel was increased to allow greater productivity from the Mill. The final fire occurred in 1969, after the Mill went out of production. On this occasion 50% of the roof of the old part of the building and the whole of the upper floor and part of the third floor was destroyed. No attempt has been made to rebuild.
As mentioned earlier, Strathaven had a Tannery up until 1876. The original Tannery was known locally as “Hell’s Fire” and was situated opposite where the Strathaven Retained Station is located. The original Tannery was destroyed by fire during the largest fire the village had experienced; the Todshill Street fire of 1844.

To divert for a moment — — —
Thomas Russel, the son of a weaver, was born in 1836. Somehow or other he managed to self teach himself. When a boy of 15 years of age, a local Minister offered a prize for the best essay on the history of Strathaven and its castle.
Thomas Russel wrote what was considered the best history, but strangely enough never received the prize. An extract from the boy’s essay refers to the Todshill Street Fire of 1844 —
“At the extremity of Todshill Street a fire broke out about 1 p.m. on 1st November, 1844, which was aided by a strong easterly wind which blew at the time and utterly defied every measure put in force to check its progress. Engines were sent for from Hamilton, rich and poor joined hand in hand to subdue the work of destruction, but all effort proved fruitless and in an incredibly short space of time a great number of houses were waft in one body of flames. But the wind changed a little to the north, which checked its progress from going into the centre of the town; but had the wind not changed, the calamity would have been greater still. By the time the engine arrived from Hamilton, the work of destruction was nearly over, and they had nothing to play upon but the smouldering ruins of nearly 40 houses.
Had this lamentable event taken place during the night, there would in all probability have been an awful loss of life, as many of them had not time to save an article of either furniture or clothing. After this event, a committee of gentlemen was appointed to procure shelter for the homeless.”

A few minor fires occurred over the next years, but it was not until a major fire in 1875 occurred at Sandhowe that the first grim reality of what fire really meant in human life struck the inhabitants of the village. Two females, Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Fleming, could not escape from the building and perished in the flames.
The shock of what happened at this fire prompted Mr. Thomas Tennant of Priestgill, in the year 1876, to present to the residents of the Parish of Avondale, a horse drawn manual operated pump which he named “Strathaven Castle”. The pump was housed in Strathaven and could draw its water from any of the open water supplies available.
There was no lack of volunteers to man Strathaven Castle and it ran to any fires which took place within the Parish.
The owner of the Sun Inn was a Mr. Reid. Mr. Reid also had a Carrier Haulage business and supplied the horses to draw the pump.
("Strathaven Castle” has been preserved, and is still capable of providing two good fire jets from open water. At the present time, 1971, it is stored at Lanarkahire Fire Brigade Headquarters. From time to time it is used at Parades within the towns of Lanarkshire).
During October, 1888, the tenant of the Plough Inn saw “Strathaven Castle” leave for Stonehouse where its services were required at Stonehouse Cross. Stonehouse had only a hand cart and could not cope with the major fire in progress.
The tenant of the Plough Inn predicted that it would soon be needed in Strathaven. His prophecy came true for in a little while flames were shooting up from the Plough Inn which was mostly destroyed.
Mr. Brown in his book refers to the fact that — “Since, too, this type of calamity was not unique in the tenant’s experience, local folk regarded this event more as an act of man than an act of God”.
An amusing story is told that a wee Strathaven laddie followed the course of “Strathaven Castle” by walking to Stonehouse Cross. When he arrived home at midnight, he got a sore skelping from his father with the tawse. During his cries, there were louder yells outside. His father, tawse in hand, rushed to the door -
                                                “Fire, Fire”
and there it was, the Plough Inn blazing to high heaven, and the fire brigade still in Stonehouse.
During the year 1896, gravity water from the Glengavil Reservoir was laid into the town and hydrants placed on the mains. This allowed the purchase of a Wheel Barrow Hand Cart which carried hose, branchpipes, standpipe, breaching and breaking in tools. From then on, the Barrow was the first line of defence against fires within the village. “Strathaven Castle” was then placed in reserve.

 It is unfortunate there appears to be a space of time in the records of the Parish as regards fire-fighting from 1896 until 1922. It is known that the local Police and Volunteer members of the Public manned the Wheel Barrow which was housed at the Police/Court House.
As this is a historical document, it should be noted, with some pride, that the present Part time Sub Officer Willie McKay, serving at Strathaven, has a long connection with the volunteer members of this rural Brigade. Mr. McKay’s father, who like W. McKay, Jnr., was a Plumber to trade, and was one of the early volunteers to man the Wheel Barrow.
Young Willie, at the first opportunity, volunteered to serve in the Crew. In 1933, an appeal was made from the Lanarkshire County Fire Brigade for residents of Strathaven to volunteer to assist in firefighting. Willie McKay, Jnr., was in the local Scouts, and with other members of his Troop went to the Police Station and asked Sgt. Buist if the Scouts could volunteer.
Sgt. Buist accepted this offer and in no time the young Scouts were drilled in hose running at Strathaven Police Station and later at Cambuslang Police/Fire Station.
Soon father and son found themselves pushing the Wheel Barrow together.
In 1922, a serious fire broke out at two blocks of houses in Green Street. The Wheel Barrow and Crew attended and a call was sent to Lanarkshire County Fire Brigade for assistance. The County Brigade dispatched a Motor Engine from Larkhall. Despite the efforts of both Brigades, the buildings were destroyed. The Supermarket now occupies the site where the houses once stood.
During the year of 1935, on the 28th December, a major fire took place at the Rankine Church Hall. The Wheel Barrow attended and again an assistance message was sent to the County Brigade. Unfortunately, when the fire was over only the smoky ruins of the Hall was standing. The cause of this fire has been placed on the installation of a new boiler and vent. It appears that in making the new vent a timber joist was left protruding into the chimney.
The threat of war in 1938 saw the formation of the Auxiliary Fire Service Willie McKay, Jnr., with eleven other volunteers formed a local Unit.
On the outbreak of war in September, 1939, the volunteers found themselves conscripted into the A.F .S. as full time members. New quarters were found in Bridge Street and the Station was manned with a Standard Towing Unit holding, inside, a light trailer pump, and trailing a 500 g.p.m. Coventry Climax Pump.
With the war entering the “Phoney Period’ of 1940, and no bombs dropping on the village, the volunteers reverted to part time from full time and have remained thus ever since.
Then followed the long years of the war which saw the disbandment of the A.F.S. and the immediate formation of the National Fire Service on the 18th August, 1941. This change was followed by a return to the Local Authorities Fire Brigades on the 16th May, 1948. The Station now found itself attached to the new Lanarkshire Fire Brigade.
A new Fire Station was built in Lesmahagow Road and was duly opened as a Part time Station on the 30th June, 1955. Sub. Officer McKay remained as Officer in Charge.
It will be of interest to record some of the major incidents which the Strathaven Station has attended since 1948.
About a year after the reorganisation, a call was received at Strathaven on the 6th September, 1949, at 0130 hours to a prefabricated house at 7, Burnhill Street. The Strathaven Unit and appliances from Hamilton attended. The units were unfortunately too late to stop the fire totally destroying the house.
Death by fire came once more to the village. On Tuesday, 1st February, 1955, at 2356 hours, a call was received to Gilmourton, Strathaven. An appliance from Strathaven and two from Hamilton were dispatched. The Strathaven appliance on arrival found the entire building, consisting of two single storey with attic bedrooms, was completely involved in flames. The roof and floor of the attic bedrooms had already collapsed. Two lines of hose were quickly brought into action. Sub. Officer McKay was informed by civilians that it was suspected that four children were sleeping in the attic bedrooms and. it was found that a boy, aged 13 years, had escaped from the attic bedroom by climbing on to the roof slates and dropping to the ground. Strenuous efforts were made to gain entry to the building, but owing to the amount of burning roof and floor timbers, it was impossible to find the children at the time. It was almost an hour later before the bodies of the four children were recovered. The ages of the children ranged from 1 year to 5 years 9 months. On enquiry it was determined that the five children had been sleeping in one of the attic bedrooms.
The eldest, aged 13 years, awakened to discover the room full of smoke and finding it impossible to descend the stairway because of smoke and flames, escaped by way of the attic bedroom window and on falling to the ground sustained an injury and was unable to immediately raise the alarm. A passing motorist saw the blaze and aroused the tenant of a nearby house and the Fire Brigade was called.
An interesting call received on the 15th June, 1958, was to a Menagerie Convoy leaving the fairground at Hamilton and on the roadway just entering Strathaven. Fire had occurred in the wagon carrying the Giraffes. The owner of the convoy had managed to free the animals and the Strathaven Unit quickly extinguished the fire.
On the 6th October, 1933, a call was received at Fire Brigade Headquarters to the old Police Station, Strathaven. Strathaven and two appliances from Hamilton were dispatched.
On the arrival of the Strathaven Unit, they discovered the building was well alight and heavy smoke was issuing from every opening. The Strathaven Unit asked for assistance.
This building, where once the first floor was used as the local Court House with the ground floor as a Police Station, was now being used as a storage space for waste paper. Of such magnitude was the fire that part of the walls collapsed during the blaze.
It is with some regret that, unknown to the members of the Brigade attending, among the waste paper on the ground floor was the Wheel Barrow Hand Cart which had served the Parish with fire cover since 1891. The Wheel Barrow was devoured by flames.
One of the largest fires Strathaven has attended since the Todshill Street conflagration of 1844 was a call to the Dungavil Residential School, Muirkirk Rd. This building had been previously occupied as the residential home of Lord Hamilton and consisted of three main wings. The frontage wing was approximately 200 feet in length and was of part four and three storey. The roof of this main wing was found on arrival of the Unit to be well alight from one end to the other — Water was found in an ornament lake of sufficient capacity to get an immediate application of two jets.
Before the fire was brought under control, twelve appliances were in action, most of whom were employed in a relay from the nearest good hydrant ¾ mile distant. Ten jets and one Turntable Ladder jet was in use and they had to be applied sparingly to whichever side the fire was travelling.
The average attendance at fires over the year to which Strathaven are called amounts to 150. The enthusiasm of this Retained Unit in carrying out their firefighting duties diligently has been rewarded by the issue of a brand new Dennis Fire Appliance of 1971 manufacture. The record of activity and achievements of the Strathaven Unit will survive, and in the years to come as generation by generation of firefighters of Strathaven take over, let us hope the memory of the old original founders of the Wheel Barrow era may never be forgotten. 

“And every man shall be rewarded according to his works”.


(Type from an article in File TD1431/46/2 at the Mitchell Library.)



<PHOTO> Councillor John Fox opens the new fire station. Immediately behind him is Firemaster A.H. Nisbet. A report of the opening (with pictures) is on page 25.
(The Hamilton Advertiser, May 7, 1955. Page 23.)


New Fire Station Opened At Strathaven


Building the Fulfilment of County Committee’s Old Promise



The first of a number of new fire stations to be built in Lanarkshire was opened at Strathaven last Saturday, by Councillor John Fox, chairman of the County Fire Brigade Joint Committee. The new building cost £8,000.
At the opening ceremony there were representatives of the Scottish Home Department, the Fire Brigade Committee and other fire services, the contractors, the builders, and members of the County Council and the Fourth District Council.
Councillor Fox began the ceremony by operating a new calling out system for part time fire services which brought the firemen - one from each station in the County - from the old station in Strathaven to the new building where they went through a short drill exercise.
Councillor Fox said it had been along time since he had promised the Strathaven personnel a new fire station and he was very glad indeed that he had been able to keep that promise. They had the honour of having the first of a number of new stations which were going to be opened in the County.
He knew from a close association with the members of the Strathaven service just how hard they had worked to have the station ready on time. In declaring the new building open, he had pleasure in handing over the key to Sub Officer William McKay.
At the dinner which followed in the Sun Hotel Firemaster A. S. Nisbet gave a warm welcome to the guests. Unfortunately, he said, Sir Charles Cunningham and Mr A.F.C. Clark, both of the Scottish Home Department, had been unable to attended. However, he was glad to see Mr R. S. Nixon, also of the S.H.D., and Mr A.D. Wilson, HM Inspector of Fire Services (Scotland), in attendance, and also Firemaster J.T. Davidson Central  Area Fire Brigade, and Firemaster H.R. McKay, South West Area Brigade.
Firemaster Nisbet said that during the tour through the new station they would probably have noticed artist’s impressions of the new stations which were being, or would be built at Hamilton, Lanark and Coatbridge. These would give them an indication of the high standard that was being set in Lanarkshire.

A Friend to the Community

Councillor Fox said that there had been a fire service in Strathaven for the past 100 years, and they had records of events which had taken place in the town during that time. These records made them feel that a good fire service, no matter where it was could be a great friend to the Community. The people of Lanarkshire would benefit from the fact that the Fire Brigade Committee were cognisant of the need for a good fire service in the County.
When he took over the chairmanship of the committee, said Councillor Fox the Strathaven had been housed in the old jail, which had been very unsuitable and any chance of an efficient fire service operating from it had been pretty poor. From there they had moved into premises belonging to a butcher, but they had always been under the threat of having to vacate the place at short notice. He had seen and appreciated the difficulties under which they were operating, and he had promised them better premise - they had seen the result of the promise that afternoon.
The new station, he said, ought not to have been opened for another two or three weeks, but that would have taken them right into the middle of the election campaign, and it had been decided to open it earlier.

Retained Men’s Wonderful Spirit

He was glad to have the opportunity of thanking the builders and contractors, the firemen and the retained firemen, who had helped to get the station ready in time. Of the retained men, Councillor Fox said that, in addition to carrying out their normal work, these men had worked hard, sometimes until after midnight, to make sure the station would be completed in time. This, he thought, was a wonderful spirit. The full time firemen in the county were very loyal people. They were given the best possible conditions, and they responded to them. However, they had no such binding authority on retained firemen, and it was a credit to them that they had done so much to have the station completed.
Before concluding, Councillor Fox paid tribute to the good work that had been done by Mrs R. J. J. Elder, who had been  a “great friend to the firemen.”
Mr Nixon said that one of the things which impressed them greatly in the Home Department was the amount of work put in by the Lanarkshire Fire Brigade Joint Committee and its officials.
He remarked jocularly that he had heard the efficiency of the Lanarkshire Fire Brigade stressed many times, but he had noticed that the fire insurance rates in the area were not much below those in other parts of the country!
On behalf of his colleagues he expressed his thanks for the “characteristic hospitality” that had been shown to them.
Mr Lennox D. Paterson, the architect, on behalf of the surveyor, contractors, and himself, presented a gold watch to Councillor Fox on the occasion of the opening of the new fire station, and presented a novelty key to Firemaster Nisbet. Both men suitably replied.
Other speakers were Mr John Ewing, chairman of the Fourth District Council, and Mr Jack London (Home Department). A vote of thanks was proposed by Firemaster Davidson.
The station is built on modern lines and incorporates the latest planning features advocated by the Home Office Committee on Fire Stations. The accommodation is planned round the appliance room and includes a muster bay, equipment room, kitchens, ablutions, drying room, and heating chamber. The site was originally occupied by some of the oldest buildings in Strathaven, and built into the front wall is an old marriage lintel taken from one of the demolished buildings.
<PHOTOS> Above: Councillor Fox puts the new calling out system into operation. Top right: The men at the old fire station speedily answer the call, and race to the fire engine. Below: On arrival at the new station the men carry out a short exercise. Looking on are Councillor Fox and Firemaster Nisbet. Bottom Left: The exercise completed, the firemen stand to attention as Councillor Fox compliments them on their work. Bottom Right: After opening the new station Councillor Fox hands over the key to Sub Officer McKay.
(The Hamilton Advertiser, May 7, 1955. Page 25)

The photos described above are not on this WEB site.


 2003 Extension being built to station (front right) for female/male toilets, locker rooms, muster bay and disabled toilets.


If you know of any mistakes in this or have any additional information please let me know.


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