Wickford Voluntary Fire Brigade

The Wickford pump at Pitsea
Mr G. Fairey
Wickford Fire Brigade; back left Albert Lovell, front left Alf Fairey, front right Sam Wright
Mr G. Fairey
Opposite Tilburys Butchers, 1939, (from left) Ron Pickup, Alf Fairey, Samuel Wright, Stan Souter, Joe Fosh.
Albert Lovell (left) and Alf Fairey.
Nevendon Road Fire station
Mr G Fairey
London Road Fire Station
Mr G.Fairey
Wickford Fire Brigade. Behind the ladder - Albert Lovell (left), Alf Fairey (2nd from left).
Mr G Fairey
Albert Lovell (left) and Alf Fairey.
Wickford Fire Brigade
Mr G Fairey
Wickford Fire Brigade
Mr G Fairey
Samuel John Wright, Wickford National Fire Service, 1943
Trevor Williams
Fireman Samuel John Wright, Fire Woman Ethel Florence Wright and twelve year old daughter, Doreen Wright. Taken outside fire station, 1943.
Trevor Williams
Born in Rayleigh, he married my Grandmother, Ethel Florence Salmons, and settled here in Wickford. They moved into a bungalow in Guernsey Gardens, 22 Sadoreth, where my Grandmother later gave birth to an only child, a little girl, who they named Doreen. My Grandfather is recorded in the local newspaper as being the very first fireman to retire from what was at the time, the new Basildon Fire Station, in June 1964. He died in 1975.
Trevor Williams
John Wright began his service :- This is his locker fob which my late Grandmother found in her button box.
Trevor Williams
This photograph was sent to us by John Cootes. This is a picture of my father, Ben Cootes, who was part of the Wickford Fire Service through WW2. He served for 21 years and was the fire engine driver for much of that time. This picture shows my father with my two older sisters, Pat and Josie, and was taken at our home in Athelstan Gardens during WW2, before I was born in 1944. I guess this picture was taken about 1940/41. During the war the Wickford Firemen were called into London during the blitz; it would be interesting to know if anyone has any records of that period.

Comments about this page

  • I also remember the fire station in London Road, Wickford, before the new one was built in Nevendon Road. Also remember Dennis Winter, a part time fireman, often when in his shop/post office in Castledon Road, the fire bell would sound and he would drop everything, rush out, jumping in his car at great speed.

    By Val Ramsden (01/01/2018)
  • I can remember playing in the park when the siren went off and then watching all the cars arrive and firemen running on foot putting on their helmets and buttoning up their coats as they did so.

    By Thelma Hornibrook (22/02/2017)
  • Another photograph has been added to this article. It is of Ben Cootes who served for 21 years, including during World War 2.

    By Bob Plimmer (14/04/2016)
  • I was in the class of the twins Janet & Carol Wright. I remember Janet Eldridge as well.

    By Beryl Young nee Wallace (05/04/2016)
  • C H Nason is right, the fireman is Bert Barker. He was employed by Carter and Ward as a carpenter at their Runwell Road works and was also a volunteer fireman in Wickford. Like all volunteers, at the sound of the siren they would drop their tools and go off to do whatever they might have to face.

    By Geoff Fairey (09/02/2016)
  • In the eleventh picture, the name of the seated fireman wearing glasses is Barker. I can’t remember his first name, he lived in Athelstan Gardens.

    By C H Nason (20/01/2016)
  • This website is amazing. I remember Joe Saunders, and yes he did live in Church End Lane with his tailoring business, and later moved that to a shop in the London Road. I went to school with June, his younger daughter, from 1952-1963, lovely family. Bob Wright had twins, Carol and Janet.

    By Janet Eldridge (27/12/2015)
  • Re the picture taken opposite Tilbuy’s butchers. (Picture 3)( Edt.) Ron Pickup must have had a son, Bert, who was one of the drivers of Runwell Hospital Bus, and also as a stand in chauffer.

    I can’t add any more than this, but it may ‘jog’ a memory.

    By dennis Smith (24/07/2014)
  • I am sure the left hand Fireman in the picture of two standing firemen in helmets is Joe Saunders.

    By John Rogers (03/11/2013)
  • I spent today with my father at my Grandfathers (his fathers) grave at Wickford Cemetary. My grandfather started Wickford Fire Brigade. his name was Frank Herbert Chandos Dunmore. I want to record his story. My grandfather was a plumber for Southend Pier Office when war broke out in 1914. He signed up and served ‘Somewhere in France’ After returning from the war he joined Southend on Sea Fire Brigade and became a successful fireman. When he was starting to feel the affects of his TB he applied for a job in an area with ‘better air’, that being Wickford! He lived with my Grandmother at London Road in the Fire Officers House. My Dad has explained that it had a huge wall of bells, each linked to a standard on every street corner. The standards had glass panels which, in the event of a fire, you broke and pulled a handle inside, which in turn rang a bell in the house! The fire engine was a hand cart kept in a lock up (it once went to Southend Carnival with the caption ‘Keep it going ’til we get there’ The Lord Lieutenant of Essex disposed of a very powerful car called a ‘French Minerva’ and it was with Dixons car sales at Billericay. It was purchased by the Brigade and my Grandfather converted it and fitted pumps etc. to enable the brigade to use it as a fire engine. My Dad, when not at school would, every now and then be allowed to ride on the pump with his Dad to attend a fire. I have many photographs of the Southend and Wickford Fire Brigade from my Grandfather up to 1937. When he died my Grandmother received a beautiful letter from the Chief, it ended “he is still in sound of the bell” that is because he is buried at Wickford Cemetary, still in sound of the bell… Sadly, war broke out and time passed and a headstone never was placed to mark his life. After researching him and getting my Dad talking, that situation changed. Today, I took my 87 year old father to see his Fathers headstone which his family had done. A lovely moment for us. I am hugely proud of my Grandfather and wanted to share this with the people of Wickford, an insight into those that walked before you. 

     Ps/if you are in Wickford Cemetary, his is the gravestone with the inscription “still in sound of the bell” Ruth Dunmore

    By Ruth Dunmore (01/10/2013)
  • How lovely to see my grandfather, Bob Wright, in a few of the photos above. 4th photo down 2nd from left and I think also 11th down back row 4th from left. Will have a scout about for more names and photos.

    By Lisa Wade (03/08/2013)
  • Good to see some memories of the old fire station. My father Ben Cootes (in some of the above pictures) used to drive the Wickford Fire Engine… Does anyone have any details of where during the London Blitz the Wickford appliance was stationed?

    By John Cootes (09/06/2013)
  • Wickford Fire Station was station number 20, Basildon was station number 27. I was at Wickford station for almost 30 years with Bob Wright in charge. He is in some of the photos above.

    By Gary (11/05/2013)
  • I remember the fire siren going off in the 1950s and watching Mr Winter from the Castledon Rd shop race to the fire station.  B. Willets.

    By B.Willets (23/02/2013)
  • Joe Saunders had two daughters, Sylvia and June.  I lived over the road from them and worked with Sylvia in the corner shop.

    By D.Fosh (08/02/2013)
  • Did the Joe Saunders who lived in Church End Lane have two daughters Sheila and Monya, or grandaughters? If so I went to school with them in early 1950s.

    By BOBCROOT (02/09/2012)
  • Hi all, I am the grandson of the late Samuel John Wright who first served with Billericay’s Fire Brigade and I still have his locker fob…….and my grandmother was Ethel Florence Wright, to my certain knowledge the only fire women to serve at Wickford. I have a photograph of them both outside the London Road Fire Station….where my grandmother was acting station cook. Ever since I was old enough I used to ask my grandfather question after question….to which he would oblige me with some of the most interesting answers. He would relate many of the wartime shouts he attended….and I used to write them down word for word. Every grandchild is or should be proud of their grandparents…..mine have been gone a number of years now. But they both commanded so much respect here in Wickford everywhere they went…….and although only a young when my grandfather died. One of my proudest moments was as the hearse drew near to Southend Crematorium Southend Fire Station were outside at attention with flag at half mast. I have his retirement tankard and my Mother their only daughter still retains his retirement barometer with inscribed plaque. Fireman Samuel John Wright was the first fire officer to retire from Basildon Fire Station. I can truthfully say on behalf of my grandfather……that being a fire fighter was a job he lived for and actually told me that he’d never want to do anything else. I also hold proudly his service medals and his original fire axe in it’s leather pouch….from Station 27 Wickford. During 1940/41 he obtained two German 1kg Incendiary bombs…….which were defused and used as demonstration items to educate the local residents on how to extinguish the weapons. One an ordinary fire bomb dropped as one of hundreds in a canister which burst at the bottom of his garden in Guernsey Gardens, Wickford…….the other was the first explosive type which he recovered from Painters Hill, Vange, Essex. He attended many aircraft crashes…..the Messerschmitt Bf110 which fell at De Beauvoir Chase, Downham………several British Fighters that fell in the area…..one of the most memorable a Dornier Do217M1, Werk Nr. 56017….coded U5 + CK of Kampfgeswader 2 Holtzhammer which fell in the grounds of Runwell Hospital on the 21/22 January 1944. This aircraft was one of the very first to be shot down by a radar predicted gun battery stationed in the Pitsea area. My grandfather described the events of that shout in graphic detail……as I grew up I joined the Essex Aviation Group and was one of the original members who helped excavate the remains of the Dornier from it’s crash site…..this was one year after my grandfathers death in 1975. He attended the Land Mine incident in Swan Lane….02/10/40 that killed the Pratt family and the V2 Long Range Rocket incident that fell at the bottom of Sugden Avenue,Wickford and many more throughout the war and after. My most vivid memories of my grandfather…..very strict….but very fair……a man’s man but very sympathetic if you had a problem….very clever with his hands could fix anything….the patients of a saint…….and at sixty myself now….do I miss them…….you bet I do. I have other photographs which I will willingly share with you once I’ve learned how to put them on.

    By Trevor A. Williams. (21/08/2012)
  • So excited to have just seen this website and these photographs. My grandfather, Frank Dunmore, is in these photographs. I have some more which I will copy when I get a chance. My Grandfather apparently built Wickford’s very first fire engine. Looking forward to showing these to my Dad, he will be delighted.

    By Ruth Dunmore (20/05/2012)
  • I remember Joe Saunders well. He was a friend of my parents from the mid 50s and my mother did tailoring work for him at home before he had the tailor’s shop in London Road. I went to school with his daughters but I do not recall their names. I remember Joe would dash off to the fire station when the siren went off.

    By John Rogers (24/04/2012)
  • I have just found this photo in Peter Lucas’s book “Basildon”. The caption reads: Vange firemen with their old and (right) new engines, which means the one on the left is Wickford’s engine.

    By Jo Cullen (29/03/2012)
  • Hi all, I am Joe’s grandson, we were looking at this site to try and find some pictures of his tailors shop, in the London Road, the family moved to Cornwall and Joe died in 2004, outlived somewhat by his widow, Doris, who is currently 99. Does anyone have any pictures of either grandad or his shop please?

    By Steve Bloomfield (22/03/2012)
  • I am not certain but I think Joe Saunders was a tailor and had his shop in London Road. If I am thinking of the same man, he made my wedding suit!

    By Geoff Fairey (21/03/2012)
  • I remember the siren sounding to call the volunteer firemen, during the 1950s. Anyone remember Joe Saunders, he used to live in Church End Lane?

    By John Hawes (13/03/2012)
  • Three fire engines. The one in the middle was Pitsea’s Renault fire engine. I am told it was quite a rarity. 1930s

    By jo cullen (26/01/2012)
  • Re the photo of the three fire engines, I wonder which one was from the Wickford station? The registration plates show that the vehicle on the left was registered in London, the D-reg. indicates Kent, whilst the DNO-reg. was a Chelmsford registration.

    By Cliff Thornton (28/11/2011)
  • The !st Photo, labelled ” The Wickford pump at Lake meadows” was taken at what is now Howard’s Park at Pitsea. The police station (in Rectory Road) can be seen to the left in the rear. The Tudor style houses being built by Mr Howard are to the right of the police station. I have a photo taken showing the park, houses and police station taken from a similar viewpoint.

    By Denise Rowling (23/11/2011)

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