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Not Brentford

Fund-raising firemen, 1894

Group of 9 cheerful firemen leading a donkey and small organ; lady in traditional canal costume in foreground

Roger Davis has provided this 1894 photo which was re-printed in the Brentford & Chiswick Times, 6 November 1975.

The text reads:

The year is 1894 and the location The Ham, Brentford. In those far off days the Brentford Fire Station was situated there and some of the Force are seen nearby collecting funds for the fire service with an organ.

Turning the handle is Frank Davis - he later became the brigade's superintendent. Also pictured are Tom Davis, J. Hargreaves, and holding the pony is Peter Boddy. On the tiny cart alongside the organ is a baby's cradle. We shall probably never know its purpose!.

The new Fire Station was built in Ferry Square two years later so perhaps the fund raising related to this? The 'pony' looks like a donkey and Roger suggests 'maybe the cradle was for the monkey?'.

Keith Davis adds 'Tom Davis my grandfather is in the front of the photo and later became Superintendant of Brentford Fire Station, I think he retired sometime in the 1930's'.

A search of the 1891 census for people with occupation 'fireman' (FindMyPast web site) showed 6 local matches, but none matching the names in the article. The gentlemen pictured were probably part-time firemen and will have given their full time occupations to the census enumerator. Also the local 'firemen' recorded in 1891 may have been in the gas works or other trades; one was a railway worker:

  • Samuel Champion, aged 32, 57 Pottery Road, Brentford
  • James Gayler, aged 29, Acton
  • George Groves, aged 20, Norwood, fireman on a railway engine
  • Frederick James Riley, aged 23, Twickenham
  • Alfred Ruff, aged 25, 18 Walnut Tree Road, Brentford
  • Walter Woodhall junior, aged 21, Ealing area

Peter King provided a list of volunteer firemen in Brentford, 1879.

If you can identify anyone else in the photo please get in touch.

Published May 2009