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The Rushden Echo, 5th July, 1907, transcribed by Gill Hollis
New Steam Fire Engine for Rushden

Satisfactory Tests
A Splendid Stream Of Water - Thrown Half-Way Up The Church Steeple
A sketch of the new Steam Engine

  The new steam fire engine, which has been purchased by the Rushden Urban Council for the use of the Rushden Volunteer Fire Brigade, was publicly tested on Saturday afternoon in the presence of a large concourse of people, and the tests were perfectly satisfactory from every standpoint.

  The new engine is a light but powerful machine of Messrs. Shand, Mason, and Co.’s patent “double vertical” variable expansion type as designed for the London Fire Brigade who have in actual use no fewer than 58 steam fire engines of Shand, Mason, and Co.’s construction, including 19 of this new and successful pattern.

  The Shand-Mason “double vertical” steam fire engine may fairly claim to have set the fashion in the fire engine world, having been adopted by

The Leading Fire Brigades

throughout the country. Engines of this popular type are in use by the Glasgow, Birmingham, Bradford, Oldham, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Southampton, Derby, Preston, Norwich, Blackburn, Huddersfield, Reading, Bournemouth, Tunbridge Wells, Bedford, Kettering, Swansea, Loughborough, Eton, Cambridge, Stamford, Wellingborough, and numerous other well-known fire brigades.

  The principal features of the Shand-Mason “double vertical” engine are its twin double-acting steam cylinders working directly upon a corresponding pair of double-acting pumps, the whole being placed vertically at the rear of the quick-steaming boiler furnishing the motive power.  Two piston-rods convey the movement of each piston to the pump-rod, and the movement is communicated to the double-throw crankshaft by connecting rods of new and special form running from a joint in the headpiece of each pump-rod.  This new arrangement, which replaces the less effective crosshead, while facilitating the smooth working of the machinery minimises friction, thereby considerably

Lessening The Wear And Tear

The design of the engine ensures a steady flow of water whether at high or low pressure, and the machine works without noticeable oscillation, a very important consideration as the vibration and movement present in some types of engines by continually chafing the hose materially reduces the length of time it would otherwise last.  Other points of the Shand-Mason “double vertical” are the simplicity of design, the rapidity and ease with which the various parts can be got at for cleaning or examination, and the lightness of the whole machine in comparison with its power and capacity.

  The variable expansion “double vertical” is so arranged that the steam in the cylinders can be used more or less expansively as desired, the alteration being made by a lever and quadrant moving the cut-off eccentric strap, a pointer showing the degree of expansion.  The engine is started when the cut-off is at three quarters, and when at work this can be varied to half stroke, and as the work done in either position is practically the same owing to the expansive quality of steam, the effect of the expansion arrangement is considerable economy in steam consumption, and consequently

A Saving In Fuel

and a reduction in the weight of the machine.

  The boiler is of the firm’s patent inclined water-tube type and with the aid of the new Shand-Mason quick steam raising apparatus is capable of raising steam from cold water to 100lb. pressure per square inch in 4½ to 5 minutes while stationary or a minute or so longer while travelling, without stoking whatever. Stoking en-route at best neither a safe nor easy task, is accordingly rendered unnecessary. The fire is lighted on leaving the fire station or at any point of the journey, without stopping, by means of the simple lighting apparatus fitted at the front of the boiler. A further important advantage is obtained by the use of the

New Quick Steaming Apparatus

in that the engine starts work with a full body of fire in the furnace, and there is therefore no risk of a temporary reduction in steam pressure when the engine commences working.  The furnace door is at the side in preference to the rear, the side position having important advantages, so much so that the London Fire Brigade have specified this arrangement in engines constructed for the brigade.  Briefly the advantages are stated to be the following :-  The engineer being away from the hose and suction-pipe connections and having all boiler gauges and fittings within easy reach can perform his work better;  the position is more convenient for cleaning, oiling, etc., the centre of gravity is kept low, allowing the engine to travel more easily and safely;  the design of the engine is less cramped, and a lower position of the suction-chamber is permitted, which is very useful when working from a depth.

  The boiler fittings and feeding apparatus are in every respect complete and well adapted to their several purposes, and bear

Important Improvements

lately introduced.  Alternative means of keeping the boiler supplied with water are provided to meet all contingencies and arrangements are made for heating the feed water in tank on rear foot board.  The lubricating arrangements have been very carefully designed and are thoroughly effective and as far as possible self acting.

  The Shand-Mason “double-vertical,” though light in weight, is strongly built, steel entering freely into the construction of both carriage and frame.  The parts of the machinery with which the water comes into contact are of gun-metal, bronze, or other non-corrosive metal.  The engine is mounted on strong, high, wood-spoke wheels, with steel axles, springs, and side frames, and is furnished with a full size hose box, the lid of which forms seats for the firemen.  When fully stowed with the necessary hose and other gear and with men mounted the machine can be rapidly drawn by a pair of horses or for near-by fires can be readily dragged by hand. 

  The pumping capacity of the Rushden steam fire engine is

300 Gallons Per Minute

and it will throw a 1.1/16 inch jet to a height of 150 feet or as many as four strong jets simultaneously to a good working height.

  Finished in handsome style, the woodwork painted vermilion and bright metal parts highly burnished, the name “Rushden” painted on the sides of the large hose box in gold and colours, the machine presents a fine appearance.  It is fitted with a powerful double-lever brake acting on both hind wheels, and is furnished with suction-pipe and all necessary accessories.

The Trials

  Meeting at the fire station at 8 p.m., the following members of the Fire Brigade were in attendance :- Captain Fred Knight J.P., (in command), Second officer J.T. Colson, Secretary G.R. Turner, Firemen Green, Sparrow, Nuttall, Twelftree, Whiting, Underwood, Britchford, Wildman, and Payne.

  The company included Councillors F. Ballard, J.P., (chairman), W. Bazeley (vice-chairman), J.S. Clipson, T. Swindall, C. Bates, and J. Paragreen. There were also present Mr. Madin (surveyor), Mr. Hunter (sanitary inspector), Mr. Ashdowns, Mr. Geo. S. Mason, and others.

  Chief-Officer Busby was present from Northampton, Captain Billington from Wellingborough, Captain R. Knight from Oundle, Captain Harris from Burton Latimer, Vice-captain Martin from Higham Ferrers, Sub-captain H. Thompson from Rushden Co-operative Society, and firemen from most of those brigades.  Mr. Moss (from Shand, Mason and Co.) had charge of the steamer.

  The police, who rendered excellent service to the brigade during the tests, included inspector Cameron, P,S. Judge, and Constables Archer, Goddard, Knight, Riddle, and Stokes.

A Severe Test

Drawn by a smart pair of grey horses, the steamer left the fire-station at 3.15, and it was taken to the bottom of the Green, the brook having been dammed for the purpose by the Town Surveyor.  An excellent supply of water was thus obtainable.  Two lines of hose were laid across the road, up the path adjoining the Green, to the base of the tower near the north door of the church.  The rise from where the engine stood to the church is about 40 feet, and the height from the north door to the top of the weathercock is 193 feet, so the spectators were able to form an idea how high the water was thrown.  The Rector and churchwardens allowed a test to be made near the tower.  When all hose and suction-pipes had been laid in position, Captain Knight struck the official light and the engine was set at work.

Raising The Steam

  Intense interest was taken in the raising of steam.  In three minutes a pressure of 10 lbs. per square inch was obtained;  in a few more seconds, 20 lbs;  in 3¾ minutes, 40 lbs; in four minutes 60 lbs; in 4¾ minutes 100 lbs.

  At this point the signal was given, and a second or two afterwards a splendid stream of water rose into the air.  The battlements of the church are 100 feet high, and the water soon rose into a heavy stream considerably above this point.  The jet, in fact, went far higher than the middle windows of the steeple.  As near as could be ascertained, the water was sent up to a height of about 150 feet.

Jets Of Three Sizes

were tried, viz., 7/8 inch, 1 inch, and 1.1/8 inch, and afterwards two jets of ¾ inch were put on simultaneously, the display in each case being quite satisfactory.  And it must not be forgotten that the engine was stationed a good distance below the level of the churchyard.  Torrents of water were soon pouring from the gutters of the church battlements.  Suddenly the wind changed, and blew a shower of water upon the assembled crowds.  Some of the water found its way through the roof of the church into the interior of the edifice, there being two or three weak places which are always in evidence during a severe thunderstorm.

Near The Railway

  The next test took place opposite the factory of Messrs. Sanders and Sanders, near the bottom of Midland-road.  The demonstration given near the church was on the assumption that the brigade had an unlimited supply of water.  The second display was from a restricted supply.  Here a zinc tank under the footpath, containing about a thousand gallons of water, was utilised, and this was supplemented by lengths of hose from two hydrants.  Two, and afterwards four, jets were set to work, and the test here was again absolutely satisfactory.

The Severest Test Of All

was then made. The engine was drawn up Queen-street to Messrs. Green’s factory, one of the highest parts of the town. Two splendid streams of water were soon poured high over the roof, and, in fact, over the weather-cock on the turret. At this point the water-mains are small, notwithstanding which it was easily seen that in case of emergency the steamer would render an excellent account of itself.

  Then came the greatest object lesson of the afternoon. The steamer was allowed a rest, and a jet of water was obtained from a hydrant near. The water rose feebly to the middle floor of the factory – a tremendous contrast to the two jets when the steamer was used, and the value of the new steam fire-engine was demonstrated beyond question.

  A “Rushden Echo” representative interviewed a large number of experts present, every-one expressed the utmost satisfaction with the tests to which the steamer had been subjected.

Social Gathering

  At the conclusion of the tests, Mr. F. Ballard, J.P., the chairman of the Rushden Urban Council, entertained the firemen, the visitors, and others to tea in the Fire Station, an excellent spread being provided.

  At the close of the meal, Mr. Ballard welcomed the visitors and said that to the Rushden Urban Council and the Rushden Volunteer Fire Brigade that was a red-letter day.  For a long time past the question of a steam fire engine for Rushden had received the consideration of the Council, and for various reasons it had been found necessary to postpone the matter; but to-day, he was glad to say, they were practically unanimous on the desirability of getting the most up-to-date appliances in case of fire.  They had one of the best fire-stations in Northamptonshire, if not the very best, but some of the members of the Council felt that they had not done all that was necessary until they had a steamer which would bring their fire-extinguishing appliances

Right Up-To-Date

They had tested the engine that day in various parts of the town, and from all that he could gather the tests were thoroughly satisfactory.  He hoped it would be a long time before the engine was required for practical purposes, but up-to-date appliances were a necessity, because it was a serious disaster to a manufacturing town when a factory was burnt out.  It was not only the manufacturer himself who suffered – the workmen whom he employed were also sufferers in case of fire.  Then, in addition to the saving of property, there was also very often the saving of life.  For the small amount that was required to provide a steam fire-engine, he certainly thought they ought to go as far as that.  He did not think there had been two opinions on the Urban Council as to the desirableness of providing a steamer.  As to the proper time when they could afford this


that was a matter about which there had been a great deal of discussion.  But majorities must rule.  The majority of the Council said they must have one, and now they had been supplied with a first-rate steamer.  (Hear, hear.)  He hoped the ratepayers, after seeing the test, would be fully satisfied that there had been no waste of the public funds.  He congratulated the Rushden Volunteer Fire Brigade upon what they had been enabled to do in the past, and he was sure that in the future they would do their very best to cope with any disaster.  The Council and the town had given the brigade adequate appliances, and now they had to leave them to a very great extent to the brigade to make the best possible use of them in case of emergency.  (Applause.)

  Captain Fred Knight, J.P., the commanding officer of the brigade, said that speaking for himself and every member of the brigade, it was their intention to

Use Every Possible Effort

should necessity arise, to work the engine to the very best of its capabilities.  They could do no more, but they were determined to do that.  (Cheers.)  They had a great deal to thank the Rushden Urban Council for – more, perhaps, than a great many people outside knew of.  Some of the shoe trade papers said that Rushden had done nothing to cope with outbreaks of fire, and were leaving things to take their chance.  He could assure them that experts had stated that no brigade in the country could have stopped some of the fires.  The Urban Council had never refused to supply a single thing which the brigade felt they needed.  (Hear, hear.)  With regard to the water supply, that had been the cause of a very great deal of anxious thought, and now they had a splendid water supply.  They had a storage reservoir which held 236,000,000 gallons of water, and that was running over.  They had two underground reservoirs in Rushden.

The Pressure of Water

in the low parts of the town was about 65lbs. and in the high parts from 35lbs. to 40lbs. With that amount of water at that pressure and with the steam fire engine they would fairly well say they were equipped as well as almost any town in the Midland Counties. (Applause.) If the brigade should receive a call he hoped they would be able to turn the steamer to such good account that they might be able to avert any serious loss. (Applause.)

  captain Robert Knight of Oundle, secretary of the North-eastern District of the National Fire Brigade Union, with which Rushden is affiliated, said that when he first visited Rushden it was a one-street village, while to-day it was one of the most important towns in Northamptonshire. He had watched its progress from time to time, and he felt that practically

The Crowning Point

of its success was the inauguration of the new steam fire engine.  The name of Messrs. Shand, Mason, & Co., who had supplied the steamer, was synonymous with efficiency.  (Applause.)

  Mr. Moss, representing Messrs. Shand, Mason, and Co., congratulated the police and the firemen on their efficient work during the tests that day.  The police had kept the crowd in order, and the firemen had been very energetic, no work being too onerous or too dirty for them to undertake.

  Mr. Harris, of the Burton Latimer brigade, said that the visitors greatly admired that beautiful building and the up-to-date appliances of the Rushden brigade.

  Secretary G. R. Turner, who was received with musical honours, said it had been the great hope of his life, since he had been in Rushden, to see a steam fire-engine provided for the town.  He knew before he came to Rushden what a steamer would do, and now, after the tests that day, they all knew.  He felt that if fire brigades were worth keeping up they were worth keeping up well.  (Hear, hear.)  Men who gave their energies to fire brigades ought to have appliances so that they could

Do Their Duty

His heart was in the fire brigade service. (Cheers.)

  Captain Fred Knight moved a vote of thanks to the chairman, Mr. Ballard, who, he said, had taken great interest in this work.  Mr. Ballard was not one who wanted to spend the rate-payers’ money without he saw something for it, but what he did he did thoroughly and conscientiously.  In supporting the purchase of this steamer, Mr. Ballard had done what he believed to be absolutely necessary for the welfare of the town. (Hear, hear.)

  The motion was carried enthusiastically.

  In reply, Mr. Ballard said he did not advocate wasting the ratepayers’ money any more than he would his own, but ever since he had been at Rushden he had been convinced that a steamer was necessary.

  A social evening followed.

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