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On display on the wall of the Roundhouse are a set of five antique fire buckets. Nothing unusual in this maybe apart from the fact that, even as treasured museum artifacts, they are still capable of being used for their original purpose and are purposely still located next to a source of water.
Simple question, why do our fire buckets have rounded bottoms and handles on the bottoms?
Buckets have a multitude of uses, strong and leak free they can be used to carry liquids, solids, tools, oily rags, the list is endless. They are even positioned beside the entrance doors in a certain DIY chain so you buy one to use to carry your shopping in. Here lies the problem however. They are so useful that fire buckets may be used for other jobs, rendering them missing when really needed.
Our fire buckets have rounded handle on their bottoms to discourage their use for other purposes, and possible theft. The rounded handle forces the buckets to be hung as they can't stand flat on the floor, as they might be if used for other purposes. Does the design work? Well, they are still here!
Another question is why still have buckets when fire extinguishers are around every corner? Simple really, they can be refilled and are guaranteed to work if a suitable water tap or sand pile is handy. The handle at the bottom helps with aiming too! If filled with sand they can be used to soak up spillages of paraffin or oil before a fire occurs.
It was quite likely that there were more than one set of buckets around the building although as many years have passed the evidence no longer exists.
Were they ever used? There are no records of any major fires at Barrow Hill Shed although with the combustable materials used for oiling, servicing and indeed lighting it might be assumed that there were some minor fires. What we do know is that nearby Staveley Works had it's own dedicated fire equipment and trained crew who could be called on should a major incident occur.
1929 Albion Merryweather fire engine, four cylinder petrol engine with magneto and coil ignition, Registration No ARB 165. The engine is based on a 1929 Albion truck chassis, with the body and fittings supplied by Merryweather.This splendid and rare vintage fire engine was built for the Staveley Coal & Iron Co Ltd and was used by them until 1971.
The fire engine described above was to be sold by Auction on Saturday 15th October 2016 which gave us the rare chance of finding some photographs and detailed information.
We are still hunting for pictures of the Dennis Fire Engine that came after.
A picture has just come to light of the engine sitting outside the Safety Department at Staveley Works. Year unknown.
Credit Don Cambridge