At the time of the opening of the new Fire station on Rochdale Road, in 1960 the
Bacup Borough Fire Brigade had been in existence for about 66 years. Under the
control of the board the brigade may never have come into existence had it not been
for a devastating fire at Beulah Methodist Free Church, Britannia in 1892, which left
the building completely destroyed.
Despite the effort of Britannia residents and dozens of volunteer fire fighters.A large
crowd had gathered and a quantity of hosepipe gathered from Britannia Mill the
engine shed at New Line and from Troughgate Mill. Using a donkey engine from
Britannia mill and water from the mill lodge it was still over a hour and a half before
anything effective could be put onto the fire. This was due to the bad state of repair
of the hoses, especially those of the corporation whose hoses split more or less as
soon as they were coupled up.In less than two hours the church was nothing but a
smouldering ruin, leading to a public outcry over the lack of such a large borough as
Bacup having no real facilities to fight fires.
The council was left with no alternative but to
take action, and so in 1893 the council
purchased new hosepipes and a manual pump.
This still did not satisfy the cry from the public
that a proper fire service be provided, and so in
October of 1893 the Bacup Borough Fire
Brigade came into existence, controlled by the
Chief Constable. Still this didn't satisfy the
Bacup public and councillors were forced to put
plans into place to build a new Fire house and a
horse drawn fire engine was purchased. This
was a new Greenwich steam fire engine, which
was initially stabled at Broadclough until the premises at Henrietta street were
completed. Motive power was provided by horses belonging to the waterworks and
baths departments of the council and were permanently stables at the fire station in
readiness for any calls which may come though. This new engine was the pride of
Bacup and was described as having a single jet capable of throwing water to a height
of 160 feet and, it was added, four more jets could be added simultaneously. It was
called The Irwell. The Irwell was replaced in 1916 by the first motorised Fire engine
in the town. A Leyland costing £1,100 and for which Bacup had waited nearly 18
months. It was named the J.H.Lord after the Mayor of Bacup at that time, Councillor
J.H.Lord. The launch in August being carried about by the Mayors daughter and a
appropriate bottle of champagne. Ironically the naming ceremony took place on a day
of torrential rain that left Burnley Road flooded.
The J.H.Lord served the borough for 28 years, being replaced in 1933 by a new up
to date engine known as Smith. Thursday the 1st June 1933 saw the christening of
the new Leyland Fire Engine the ceremony taking place in Stubylee Park where the
Engine was duly christened " Smith " by the Mayoress. The Mayor speaking after the
naming ceremony said. The new engine was known as a Leyland Cub F. K. I and had
27.3 horse power it had a remarkably high output for it's size and it was fitted with a
six cylinder engine, dual ignition and one of the latest type two stage turbine pumps.
It had a output of over 600 Gallons per
minute and sufficient ground clearance
for country work. It had a speed of
50mph and this speed could be
obtained with safety owing that the
centre of gravity was extremely low
and the chassis fitted with hydraulic
four wheel brakes."The ceremony was
followed by a demonstration of the
workings of the Fire Engine at Ross
Mill.The Auxiliary Fire Service Was
introduced in 1939, under the control of
the police and for a time they had their
quarters in the Rossendale Division
Carriage Co's premises at Pippin Bank.
During the hostilities of the second world war the auxiliary firemen of Bacup served all
over the country.
The early log books of the Bacup brigade
gave comprehensive details of the many fires
and incidents attended. For each fire there is
a bill to be presented for the services of the
Captain the firemen, equipment and horses.
Step Row Bacup
One of the first fires of 1905 was at 3 Step
Row in Bacup.
A man called Seth Smith had gone to bed
only to be awoken by his bedroom being full
of smoke. On going downstairs he found a
rolled up hearth rug on fire, he ran and woke
his next door neighbour a man called Wilson
Fielding who carried the rug outside and
extinguished the fire with several buckets of
Whilst looking back to 1904 one of the last fire
calls of that year occurred on November 30th.
A message had been received at 9.50pm that
the Fire engine was needed at Rockliffe
House home of the Mayor. The fire engine
arrived at Rockliffe House 9.59pm under the
command of Chief Harland with Insp Dowling,
Engineer Jackson, and Firemen Mann,
Butler, Kelly, Cutler, Crossley, Wilkinson, and
Lord. On arriving at the house the crew were
told it was a false alarm and arrived back at
the station at approximately 10.10pm.