The Parish Magazine October 2021

Editor.Bob.Peters

Serving Charvil, Sonning and Sonning Eye since 1869

24 The Parish Magazine - October 2021

feature — 5

SONNING VOLUNTEER FIRE BRIGAD

Faced with the growing danger of their farms, homes and possessions being lost by fire, Sonning villagers decided to start the

in 1905. Their dedication and ingenuity led to Sonning Volunteer Fire Brigade becoming pioneers their field. This two-part serie

through the Parish Magazine digital archives and The Sonning Fire Brigade Trust files.

November 1904: First discussion?

At the Parish Council meeting on 3 October the

first hose was discussed. It was suggested that

subscriptions should be asked for to purchase a

stand-pipe and connections and the formation of a

Fire Brigade was also discussed.

July 1905: It’s official!

The village, now boasts of a fire brigade.

October 1905: Serious business!

Considering the brigade is only two months old, the

smart turn out brisk work of the men is extremely

creditable ... under 3 minutes was taken to unload

the hose, fasten it at the main, unroll and join it, and

carry it from the main just outside Mrs Norcutts’

cottage, down the vicarage drive, on to the lawn, and

to play on the vicarage trees with a force of water

which went higher than the roof.

If such progress can be made at starting, it

is worth going seriously into the business and

perfecting ourselves in fire drill during the winter

months. The spirit of voluntary discipline and

prompt obedience to orders is worth cultivating. The

brigade might be of real assistance in saving property

— and possibly life.

At a meeting in Pearson Hall it was decided to

open a list of subscriptions to purchase a standpipe

and a hose.

December 1905: Justified existence

The SVFB, having to all appearance come to stay,

has already justified its existence. Although the

hoot toot of the local fire horn has more than once

considerably jarred on the nerves of more than one of

our well-wishers, its notes have at last given warning

that its services have been seriously required. In the

first instance its call to arms was the burning of Dr

Pallant’s hay ricks, when good service was done in

preventing the spread of fire to adjoining property.

Then on 21 November, the brigade was called to a

fire at the house of Mr Prior, newsagent. Fortunately,

while every preparation was made to cope with a

serious outbreak, it proved to be a bad chimney fire.

The brigade deserves every thanks for their prompt

reply to the call, as even chimney fires sometimes

have a bad habit of spreading, especially when the

surroundings are of a helpful nature.

January 1906: Fund raising

A concert, the proceeds of which will go to the

Sonning Fire Brigade, will be held in the Pearson Hall

on 17 January. May it be well patronised.

February 1906: It was well patronised!

The vicar entertained the choir boys to tea on 17

January and his suggestion to the boys to make

a noise quietly was not supported by a single vote

— judging from results! These results showed

themselves also at the Fire Brigade Concert, to which

all adjourned at 8 o’clock, and did their little best to

enliven from the back of the hall!

May 1906: Fire lacked water

A large barn and outbuildings near the Woodley

railway bridge were totally demolished by fire, owing

to sparks from a passing engine. For a time it looked

as if the Holme Park keepers’ cottage must catch. The

Sonning Fire Brigade were soon on the spot, but the

firemen were greatly hampered by the lack of water.

They saved the cottage, however, and did all that

could be done — and who could do more?

March 1907: The first manual*

At a general meeting held last August last, it was

decided to raise necessary funds to purchase a

‘manual’. A subscription list was started to enable

the purchase of a Merryweather & Sons engine for

£65. The fund raising netted £5 11s 8d enabling the

brigade to purchase the engine — Merryweather

agreeing to accept £45 on delivery, and the balance in

3 years, free of interest.

*A typical manual operated by most fire brigades was a horsedrawn

machine with twin 175 mm diameter pump cylinders,

delivering about 585 litres of water per minute. It was worked by

about 30 men and weighed about 1 ton plus its six-man crew.

November 1907: £2 for the fire fund

A rummage sale held in October realized, after

expenses, £38 3s 5d. A donation of £2 out of it was

given to Sonning Fire Brigade, with the balance

equally divided between the cricket and football

clubs for the improvement of their grounds.

February 1910: Timely church rehearsal

Sonning Fire Brigade had an interesting and

useful afternoon’s work at the church on Thursday

13 January. The idea was to show what they would

do and how their apparatus would cope with fire

at the church and vicarage. Assembling at the

fire-station at 2.57pm, the men turned out with

their manual engine, hose-cart, and 950 feet of

hose. A connection was made with the hydrant at

the gates near The Bull, and at 3.31pm water was

playing, capable of being poured on the church,

though to save damage to the roof it was played

out into the churchyard.

1905: The first Sonning Volunteer

very little equipment. Picture from

Sonning and Sonning Eye Society 2

1907 A two horse-drawn Merrywe

Picture from Graces Guide: https:/

1919: The first Sonning Volunteer F

helmets and uniforms. Picture fro

Tigwell - see pages 22-23.

1922: Another picture from John Ti

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