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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 11th July 1958, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Mr. Albert Timpson
When fire fighting all depended on old Dobbin
A team of horses tearing down the street with a fire engine and crew may have looked spectacular in the old days, but this method of getting to a fire was not efficient and the flames would have increased considerably by the arrival of the brigade.

Horses were still in use when Mr. Albert Timpson joined Rushden fire brigade shortly after the First World War.

Mr. Timpson, who retired last week after 22 years as Rushden’s chief fire officer, recalls these incidents of his early fire-fighting career.

Mechanisation and the provision of pump-towing vehicles came soon after he joined, and he went out with the horses only once.

Until this modernisation fire-fighting was far from efficient, he told the “Echo and Argus.” The horses which drew the bright red engines were not used exclusively by the brigade but had to be hired from people in Duck Street or in Bedford Road.

Officer Timpson
Mr. Albert Timpson
When a maroon rocket went up to give the alarm, the firemen had to dash up to the fields where the horses were kept, catch them, drive them to the fire station in Newton Road and harness them to the necessary appliance.

Even if the horses did not become awkward – they were not always willing to go, and sometimes were hard to catch – there was considerable delay in getting to the scene of the fire.

“It has been known for a fireman to go home and put on another collar while he was waiting for the horse,” Mr. Timpson laughed.

Holiday times brought new difficulties. Then the horses would be out on hire to somebody else and the firemen would have to search for others. Once, no horses at all were available, and four men pulled the fire-cart by themselves all the way from the fire station to a factory in Station Road. They were almost exhausted on arrival.

Since those days Rushden Fire Brigade has become a well-run and efficient service, thanks to the interest of the urban council. In a rather unusual set of circumstances, Mr. Timpson rose from fireman rank to station officer in one jump about two years after he joined. Before he took to fire-fighting he had been in the Royal Marines.

During World War II he was senior company officer under the national fire service organisation. He remained in command when the service reverted to county administration in 1947.

Mr. Timpson resigned because of commitments in his own business, which he has just taken over fully after being in partnership with his brother. He has been one of the few part-time fire chiefs of the area, but he explained that a part-timer is not rare in the country.

Fifty-eight years old, Mr. Timpson, who lives at 154 Queen Street, has judged many fire fighting competitions over a wide area in the past years, the last occasion being at Bedford on June 21.

He has always taken a keen interest in the fire services’ National Benevolent Fund and is a member of the executive committee of the North Eastern District of the National Fire Association.

He was responsible for the formation of the Rushden Firemen’s Old Comrades’ Association. Although he has now left the brigade for good, he will still keep a link with his former colleagues through their social functions.

The new chief officer at Rushden is Station Officer M. F. Hollis.

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