Copyright Fire Service Preservation Group 2020
Site designed and maintained on behalf of the Executive Committee by Dave Gormley
Fire Service Preservation Group
Preserving Fire Service History for over 50 years
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What do you do for a Living?
I am a Museum Professional, and a qualified teacher. I can be found anywhere from learning and public programmes, interpretation and collections management. I have a theatre school training, where I studied lighting design, during which I first engaged formally with museums and the idea of object conservation. I have however found that the skills acquired on the production side of the entertainments industry make me very broadly skilled and robust in a wide range of workplaces. I am most interested in industrial heritage and whilst the machinery and buildings are fascinating, the way we present our history has to be about people. It is the people that make things, and the people that benefit, or not, from our industrial and social development that interest me the most.
Do you have a Fire Service Background?
I personally have no fire service background. The only link I have is a Great Uncle, Roy Carrington, (523043) who served out of High Wycombe (London Road) as a Despatch Rider for the National Fire Service. Roy was asthmatic and had not been allowed to join the armed forces, and so joined the AFS until he turned 15 and was given a position in the NFS, a driving licence and a motorbike. Roy died on 21st October 1942, aged 16. I will write an article for our magazine about him one day!
How long have you been a member of FSPG?
I joined the FSPG at the Odiham Fire Show in 2014, having been taken along by Pat Langley with the Metropolitan Water Board steam fire engine, for which I was, at the time responsible as part of my job in the museum at Kew Bridge. Since that fateful weekend much has happened, I took the steam fire engine to many events, and even featured with it on the silver screen!
How long have you been on the EC?
I have been on the EC for 3 months, although at times it feels like 3 years! I asked to do some work with the member’s vehicles list, because I was interested to find out where all the older, particularly wartime appliances I had seen in photos of rallies past had gone to. For GDPR reasons, I had to be a member of the EC, apparently… (I think this was a setup!) For a number of reasons Sheila needed a break from the Secretary’s role and therefore a temporary replacement was required… I don’t remember volunteering! Since then more has changed and I am still in the Secretary’s seat, at least until elections at the AGM in 2021.
Are there any positions/special roles/jobs that you do for the FSPG?
Well, as mentioned, I am currently the Secretary. Everyone thinks the Secretary does the admin stuff and writes minutes, and this is true, but secretly (or not so!) the Secretary is really the boss! Even the FSPG takes quite a bit of organisation, consistent communication and record keeping and alongside all this I provide my professional knowledge as required and have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the group.
Why you became a member of the EC?
I was convinced that joining the EC was a good idea after espousing one afternoon my thoughts on the problems with the group and all the things it could do and be… I think the FSPG has a bright future, but there is a lot of work to do if we are going to get a group formed halfway through the 20th Century to survive and grow in the 21st. There is work to be done to enable all of us to continue to enjoy our hobby, and I am happy not only to stick my oar in, but to paddle with it as well!
What vehicles /collections do you own?
I only have one fire appliance (that I am willing to admit to!)
I own, with my sister Jo, BFH 972 ex- Gloucester City Fire Brigade, Leyland Metz TLM 2a, normally known as Gloster. We were offered the opportunity to be Gloster’s next custodians three years ago, and I am so glad we did. We have had so many adventures with this often characterful (read cantankerous) octogenarian so far, and for many of these we haven’t event left the shed! We have collected objects, images and paper ephemera charting the history of Gloster and particularly her career with GCFB, which, is probably the quirkiest fire brigade ever! Definitely worthy of the title ‘Trumpton’! (in the nicest possible Way!) Gloster lives with Pat Langley’s collection in Surrey, and we really couldn’t keep her without Uncle Pat’s continued support and invaluable knowledge –everyone should have a Pat!
What’s on your shopping list?
We are slowly restoring Gloster to her pre-war appearance, a job that is not for the faint hearted, and as time goes on and this restoration job fades, instead of keeping the vehicle in this state we will develop the appearance as occurred in service. So, there are a few bits of kit to find over time. I am most interested in finding the smaller bits and bobs to make the detailed image complete, buttons and cap badges etc, a GCFB brass helmet would be an amazing find, as would an early black cork example. Jo and I are most interested in where the vehicle has been and in documenting this. Gloster had quite a wartime experience and we have been working hard to prove where the vehicle went, so finding newspaper cuttings and photographs is good fun and often eye opening. But the key thing on the shopping list is to meet as many people who have been involved with Gloster in the last 82 years as possible and to record their experiences – history without people is pretty irrelevant!
Gloster has a Facebook page, where you can follow our adventures: www.facebook.com/LeylandTLM
What is your favourite era for re-enacting/ to portray in arena events?
The 1930’s and 1940’s are where it is at for me, not only because of Gloster, but because the socio, economic and political history of the period is fascinating. We often have a rose tinted vision of these decades because of the contribution of the popular media then, and now; when you delve into it further, the people often have similar concerns in their daily lives as we do today, but the world events going on around them do not always provide for the jolly atmosphere we are often led to believe in. Not that I am on a downer, the period is also full of characters and is awash with the kind of people that make excellent story book heroes! I think Gloster looks best in the tin helmet era, we might present the vehicle in its final form one day with yellow leggings and black cork helmets, but it just doesn’t float my boat so much!
What is your favourite thing to do at a rally?
Drink the tea, and then the beer, and talk to people about Gloster.
What do you get out of being a member of FSPG?
I get the opportunity to do a second, unpaid job as the Secretary, which I kind of enjoy. (sad I know!) I have had the opportunity to meet and talk to so many people, with such varied experiences, which is great! I have found the FSPG to be very supportive of a 30 something year old with a wartime appliance, something that seems to be quite a rarity.
What would you say to someone looking to join the FSPG?
That the organisation has something for everyone, but that it is what you make of it. The more of us that positively contribute, the better and bigger the organisation will be.
Have you got a random piece of fact/trivia/skill you would like to share?
I am one of only a handful of people to have operated a steam fire engine in anger.
I am one of less than 20 people in the world trained to operate a Cornish cycle beam engine.
I am a pianist (Grade 7) and nearly 20 years a Methodist Church Organist
I thoroughly believe that (generally) the best way to preserve a piece of machinery is to use it.
Anything else you want to say about yourself?
I am really bad at agreeing to do things for other people before I have fully thought it through.
What really irritates me is people who ‘know better’, but in actuality don’t have any knowledge, experience or training to back up their opinion. Don’t tell me that Gloster ‘wouldn’t have looked like that’ – I will prove you wrong!