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1895-1911 Slow progress in equipping the Haywards Heath Fire Brigade during its early years

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 30 April 1895



The New Fire Station

The Haywards Heath Fire Brigade have found a permanent residence for their apparatus in the old Post Office which has been somewhat altered to make it convenient for the purpose. The bow window has been removed, and a glass door now fills its place. This will enable the fire escape to be easily run out, and also permit the public to observe that Haywards Heath is protected against fire. If only uniforms could also be provided for the firemen it would rejoice the heart of the popular Captain of the Brigade on his return from his honeymoon. The next business to be taken in hand must undoubtedly be the provision of an engine, but should few additional hydrants be fixed in the town the reform might stand over for a few years. Still engine will have to come sooner or later—the sooner the better.

Haywards Heath Fire Brigade 1900s

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 21 November 1911


Presentation of Long Service Medals.

Needs of The Brigade,

At the Haywards Heath Public Hall on Saturday evening, Major-General Sir Wykeham Leigh K.C.B., after presenting the members of the National Reserve with their badges, said he had one more very pleasant duty to perform, and that was to present long service medals to certain members of the Haywards Heath Fire Brigade.

It was particularly fitting that that memorable evening they should do honour to those of their friends and neighbours who voluntarily undertook the arduous training and dangerous responsibility involved in protecting local life and property in case of tire. It was not only in warfare that they met unselfish devotion to duty and personal bravery. The records of their merchant service, their railway services, and their great mining industries were full of great deeds of heroism. But he thought that the records of the Fire Brigades of this country were, in these respects, second to none. (Hear. hear). Capt. Geo. Clarke, of the Haywards Heath Fire Brigade, who had to his credit 14 years honorary service, had reported to him that Haywards Heath had a commodious fire station and a reliable and strong body of firemen, and now asked for the substantial support the gentry of the district in order make the Brigade efficient as regards equipment. He would be only too glad to hear or receive financial help from any lady or gentleman interested.

Of late years the quantity and value of house property in Haywards Heath had greatly increased, but the equipment of the Fire Brigade had not kept pace with it. As a soldier he (the speaker) knew the futility of equipping men for war after war broke out, instead of doing it beforehand. And so with a Fire Brigade; why wait till after a disastrous fire had occurred before deciding to give them what was necessary in the way of equipment? Do it now. And remember that nothing was so discouraging to keen and hard-working soldiers, sailors or firemen than being starved of the equipment that would make their services really useful.

Captain Clarke asked for the following, from lack of which the Brigade was heavily handicapped ;—(1) electrical fire-call system to get the men together; (2) motor vehicle to get firemen, ladders and hoses to a fire quickly. The initial cost of both of these together would be about £120, with an annual outlay of about £10. It did not seem to him to be an extravagant demand; on the contrary, it seemed be well worth it. At present there was no telephonic communication with the Fire Brigade. Your house catches fire! You have first to get hold of a fireman—they live scattered about —he then has to go for the messenger boy, who has to bike round and dig out the other firemen. The fire station had to be unlocked by whatever fireman turned up first, and then the ladders and hoses were wheeled on a hand cart by the men to the scene of fire. That would hardly be called, in these days of electricity and motoring, an efficient system!

The medals were then distributed. In handing Captain Clarke his, the gallant General said “I am proud to give it to you.” (Applause). Lieutenant G. Jeffery next stepped forward, having, like the previous recipient, 14 years of service to his credit. Medals were also presented to Firemen J. Elsey and A. Johnson, the service of each extending to ten years.

Many thanks to Daniel Gibbons for the photograph of Haywards Heath Fire Brigade


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