Local Brigade History
BURY FIRE BRIGADE
Bury is one of the eight County Borough fire brigades which were amalgamated in 1974 to form the Greater Manchester Fire Service.
The earliest record of fire protection in Bury was in 1793 when two primitive, manually-operated fire pumps, made in London, were acquired and kept “in a ginnell” in Clarke Street.
By the mid 1800s, the West of England Fire insurance Company was operating a fire brigade in the town, but the town’s only fire equipment was reported to be a hand hose cart.
In 1863, Mr.T.W.Crompton, the Commissioners’ Nuisance Inspector, was appointed as the first fire brigade Superintendent. In the same year a wheeled escape ladder was purchased from Marriott of Preston.
Captain Cummings replaced Supt. Crompton in1868 and was himself succeeded by William Tweedale in 1870.
Bury Fire Brigade purchased its first steam fire engine in1875, built by Shand Mason of London.
Chief Officer Tweedale was injured in an accident with the steamer in 1875 and retired the following year, replaced by Edward.Geall from Blackburn Fire Brigade. At this period the firemen also served as Corporation lamplighters.
Around this time a former industrial building on Stanley Street was acquired for use as the town’s fire station.
A second Shand Mason steamer was acquired in 1888.
The Annual Report for 1897 shows that BFB attended 44 fire calls. The fleet consisted of two steamers, two hose carriers, two escape ladders and other equipment. The main fire station was in Stanley Street (later renamed The Rock), with a sub-station in Elton. Six street fire alarm boxes were connected to the fire station.
Superintended J.E.Fargher took charge of the brigade in 1905.
In1910 the brigade became motorised when it purchased a 300gpm pump escape appliance built by John Morris & Sons of Manchester on Belsize chassis. There were also three steam fire engines at this period.
A second motor pump (a Leyland) was acquired in 1913, and another Leyland in1920.
In 1925, a new £7000 fire station was erected on Stanley Street (The Rock), incorporating part of the earlier station on this site. At this period the Brigade also provided cover for neighbouring Unsworth, Tottington and Whitefield.
Herbert Blackledge was appointed Chief Officer in 1930 to replace CO Fargher.
A new Leyland pump escape appliance delivered in 1931 was christened “Sanderson.”
In 1934, CO Blackledge left for Bolton FB and was succeeded by William E. Greenhalgh. In the same year, a 100ft. Leyland-Metz turntable ladder appliance was commissioned.
A new Leyland appliance was delivered in 1936 and named “James.” At this period, the fire service was a joint function with the ambulance and street lighting services.
In 1940, Bury had one fire station, 29 whole-time personnel, 1 turntable ladder, 4 motor pumps, one motor tender, 1 trailer pump and 3 ambulances.
On 18th August 1941, Bury Fire Brigade became part of the National Fire Service (Region 10, No.28 Fire Force – later transferred in to 27FF).
During this period, a major fire occurred on 30th December 1942 at the Drill Hall in the town centre. NFS Fireman Walter Sunderland was killed and ten firefighters injured, along with other persons, when ammunition in the building exploded. Fireman Sunderland (posthumously) and Leading Fireman Robert Smith received a King’s Commendation for brave conduct.
Bury Fire Brigade was re-formed on the disbandment of the NFS on 1st April 1948 with Mr.John Heap appointed as Chief Fire Officer and Jack Andrew as Deputy Chief Fire Officer (later to become Chief Fire Officer).
The first new fire appliance was an AEC/Merryweather pump escape named “Aspinall.” A number of Bedford fire appliances followed in subsequent years, also (in 1965) a Dennis-Magirus 100ft turntable ladder.
In February 1960, two female workers lost their lives in a major fire at the Apex Bedding Co,
In 1967, a new, five-bay fire station and headquarters was opened on The Rock, the third fire station to stand on the same site.
CFO Andrew retired in 1970 and was succeeded by the Brigade’s final Chief Fire Officer, Kenneth Burrow MIFireE.
The final fire appliance delivery to Bury FB was a combined pump and 50ft Simon Snorkel hydraulic platform, on ERF chassis, in 1973.
On 1st April 1974, Bury Fire Brigade became part of the new Greater Manchester County Fire Service (Station C36), and CFO Burrow retired. Also within the new Metropolitan Borough of Bury were two ex-Lancashire County FB stations (Whitefield and Ramsbottom, Stations C37 and C38 respectively).
The Fire Station on The Rock was closed by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 2012 and replaced by a new Community Fire Station at Magdalene Road.