by PETER WHITE
|In the January of 1820 it is recorded that the old fire engine was disposed of and replaced by a third size engine purchased at a
cost of £60 along with two lengths of 40 foot hose at £10 and two dozen fire buckets at £12.12.0. The local Insurance Company
contributed ten guineas towards the overall cost.
However, it was to be another 44 years until the Fordingbridge community started to take the risk of fire more seriously and
realised the need for a more efficient line of protection. During this time the towns fire engines had varying degrees of success at
fires within the town as the reports below highlight.
On the 16th June 1839 a raging fire was discovered to the rear of the New Inn at around midnight. The flames soon spread to a
long range of thatched buildings consisting of a large malthouse, stables and a fuel house. These properties along with the New
Inn were totally consumed by the fire. The prevention of further destruction to adjacent buildings was attributed to the prompt and
well directed services of the fire engines.
In January 1852 a fire broke out, around 8pm, in the thatched home of a Mr. Sheppard, a local shoemaker. The fire eventually
spread to the next door property, The George Inn, and then consumed the whole of the building incredibly quickly. The fire burnt
throughout the night and although the fire brigade engines were brought to the scene early on they served little purpose as they
were found to be in poor repair with the pipes leaking badly. Eventually a fire engine arrived from Salisbury at 2am and played
water on the burning pile for some time.
Despite the poor performances of the town’s engines the majority of local ratepayers refused to raise sufficient funds, to keep the
engines in good order, from a local tax in August 1854 which surely did little to help the situation.
In December 1854 two cottages and an outhouse near to the Wesleyan Chapel, belonging to Mr.J. Rawlence and occupied by a
Mrs. Palmer, were destroyed by fire. The engines arrived quickly and with much hard work prevented the fire from spreading.
A loft belonging to Mr. Titus Mitchell and used for smoking bacon was damaged by a fire on the 28th February 1863. Although the
towns engines attended the blaze it is stated that they appeared to be useless in their efforts to stop the fire.
On the 2nd June 1855 the Stuckton Iron Works were destroyed by a fire and on the 7th July 1855 a fire occurred in the cellar of the
dwelling house of Mr. B.Legg, a rope and twine manufacturer. The fire started from a spark from a candle but luckily was
discovered before it had chance to spread to the nearby row of thatched cottages.
Chapter One - The forming of a brigade.
In August 1864 a specially appointed board of Inspectors held a meeting in Fordingbridge to arrange the appointment of three
paid Fireman whose duty it would be to see that their respective engines were always in good order and ready for any emergency
that may transpire. It was also agreed that a Volunteer Fire Brigade, numbering 24 men, should be formed. Any person interested
in joining was asked to enrol at the office of Mr.J.Harrison, the Chairman of the board. This was obviously the initial attempt at
having an organised Fire Brigade in Fordingbridge.
In September 1864 the town received a new Fire Engine. This was presented to the Parish by the Royal Farmers Insurance Office.
In addition to the engine, thirty leather fire buckets with copper rims were also sent.
At the same time the old fire engines belonging to the parish, which for some years now had been in a worthless condition, were
brought to the hammer and auctioned off. The two largest engines were purchased by Mr. William Jefferis and the small one by
Messrs. Neave & Co. of Bickton Flour Mills.
By the middle of September 1864 the volunteer fire brigade was fully subscribed and had commenced practise with the new
engine. The Captain of the Brigade was named as R.M. Davy.
In November 1864 the "new engine rate" commenced - this was 4 1/2d in the pound on house property and 1 1/2d in the pound on
land. This was not to prove popular, with many of the rate payers feeling aggrieved at having to pay the rate.
In February 1865 a small size fire engine was purchased by the Parish and was tested along with the engine presented by the
Royal Farmers Insurance Office. Both machines were found to be very competent and capable of throwing a large quantity of water.
The Board of Directors resolved, in March 1865, to obtain a third fire engine from Messrs. Shand & Mason of London. The town
would now have three good engines.
The first test for the town's new engines came at 9 o'clock one Sunday morning in April 1866. A fire broke out in the premises of Mr.
John Russell a baker. Two of the Parish engines were speedily sent and a large quantity of water was soon poured on the flames.
The fire had been discovered in the loft over the bakehouse where furze and heath were kept for heating the oven - these were
believed to have been kindled by a crack in the oven. Several bags of flour were destroyed as well as a number of flour sacks.
However, it was stated that the exertions of those present greatly contributed to the saving of the adjoining premises and the towns
fire engines were said to have worked most satisfactorily.
On Christmas Day 1866 the Lodge of Burgate House, belonging to Mr.J.Coventry, was destroyed. The fire engine was present but
due to the ferocity of the blaze it proved useless in its attempts to extinguish it.
In late March 1870 the Gatrell family were rescued from a fire at their shop next door to the Greyhound Hotel. The fire broke out
around 4am and Mr & Mrs Gattrell and their two children were got to safety via a bedroom window.
The New Forest suffered several fires during April 1875 which caused much destruction to large areas of gorse.
On a Wednesday afternoon in October 1881 a fire broke out in one of the rooms of Sandhill House, belonging to Mrs.W.M. Hewitt.
The flames quickly reduced the whole of the building to ashes although all of the furniture, apart from the bedspreads, was saved
from destruction. The Fordingbridge Fire Brigade was in attendance but due to the scarcity of water could not be used.
A large meeting was held, on the 10th February 1883, to discuss ways of raising money to provide for the maintenance of the
towns fire engines. Mr. Hannen, the meetings Chairman, explained how the original funds, raised in 1866, had been used up. It
was agreed to make a rate on the entire Parish again. This was set to be fixed for the 2nd March 1883 and was not to amount to
more than a penny in the pound in excess of the current rate.
It is recorded in a local history book of 1889 that there was, at this time, two Fire Engine Houses located in Fordingbridge. One
was in Church Street and the second was at the other end of town in Green Lane.
In December 1889 a fire broke out in the Vicarage when some clothes in a drying apparatus ignited. The fire quickly took hold and
filled the room with smoke making it impossible to enter. The Vicar at once applied several water grenades and fearing they would
be insufficient sent for the fire engine and then sought help from the neighbouring cottages. When the Fire Brigade arrived the fire
had died out by itself.
In the small hours of a Saturday morning in January 1892, Mr.H.Withers awoke to discover his outbuildings on fire. The alarm was
sounded and information was sent to Bridge House where the Principal Fireman, Mr.Alexander, was entertaining his friends.
Hearing of the fire Mr.Alexander and his guests, in full evening dress, manned the fire engine and subdued the flames.
On the 28th October 1898, a special committee was set up to look into the state of the town's fire engines and the need for a new
The committee members were:
Mr.J.G.Viney - Chairman
The committee were to consider several different sites but it was to be some time before the Fordingbridge Fire Brigade saw any
It would seem that on occasions the Fordingbridge Volunteer Fireman were somewhat disorganised in the event of a fire call. The
following letter was sent to the Salisbury & Winchester Journal on the 26th August 1899:
The occurrence just now of a call on the Fire Brigade of the above town to a furze and heather common which is on fire about three
miles away contrasts so strongly in every detail with a similar call on the Fordingbridge Brigade to Burgate Park on the 19th
instant, that it may be useful perhaps if I, as a past resident and recent visitor, draw attention to what really is a most important
matter. I was fortunate enough to be present at headquarters when the call was made at 11.25 am by a cycle messenger. He
appealed now and again for activity but in spite of this the proceedings were carried out in the most leisurely manner, the curious
old machine was pulled out from its shed - dusted - and then drawn at a walk (except for the first fifty yards) up to Burgate Park, the
procession closing up far behind with the horse that should have galloped it there! After a tiresome search to get within fifteen feet
of water, a ditch was found, and then it became evident that those who were helping had never been drilled in the matter. The fire
had almost been beaten out, but it was thought advisable to wet everything surrounding and so at 12.10 pm water gracefully
tumbled out from the nozzle under protest, apparently the jet being about two yards long. Is it not really time that this sportive little
place organised a properly trained brigade and obtained an up to date manual engine? - for if the lassitude in efficiency and
general apathy shown on the 19th is a specimen of what usually takes place then Fordingbridge is in a lamentably insecure state
as regards to the chance of life and property in ravage from fire. Thatch and wood abound good distances may have to be travelled
and hence there should be extra efficiency with good materials to work with. Instruction could surely be obtained from Salisbury or
Bournemouth and very soon someone enthusiastic would come to the front. Along with the collection of house refuse, watering of
the streets, a good water supply and drainage this matter should be put, and I hope, dealt with in earnest.
Yours Truly, Wm. Baxter.
Mr. Baxter received a prompt reply from the Parish Council the following week dismissing his claims completely and quite abruptly.
In the early hours of a Sunday morning in April 1900 a serious fire occurred at the farm of a Mr. George Mouland. All of his
outbuildings and animal stock were destroyed in the blaze.
Also in 1900 a workman spotted flames issuing from a building adjoining a cottage in Green Lane, Fordingbridge occupied by Mr.
H. Davis a bricklayer. The fire spread rapidly to Davis's dwelling which having a thatched roof was soon engulfed in flames and the
workshop of Messrs. Pitt & Sons, Wagon builders, also caught fire. The town's fire engines were quickly on the scene but due to
an inadequate water supply the fire was not extinguished until Davis's cottage and the upper storey of the workshop had been
In September 1905 a fire broke out at Rockstead farm near Whitsbury Cross. Immediately a message was sent to Fordingbridge
for the fire engine. The engine arrived promptly and confined the fire to the barn in which it had started - the barn and its contents
At midday on Friday 28th August 1906, a fire broke out on the premises of a Mr. Smith, a Grocer in Fordingbridge. The property was
thatched and was ignited by a chimney which was on fire some three feet away. A good water supply was available and on the
arrival of two of the Fordingbridge fire engines all serious danger was soon averted and within a couple of hours the fire engines
In the very early hours of a Sunday in April 1907 the farm premises occupied by Mr. Wiseman at Stuckton were set on fire. Mr.
Wiseman managed to escape the blaze but four of his heifers were burnt to death. A message was sent for the Fire Brigade which
arrived without delay. Meanwhile the fire had spread to the dwelling house which was soon totally wrecked. Simultaneously,
another fire broke out in a thatched cottage at Frogham occupied by an Eros Gurd. Local residents were very uneasy around this
time as there had been a spate of some twenty thatch roof fires in the area.
Chapter Two - Changing for the better !
In July 1908 Superintendent Alexander was asked to supply the Fire Engine Committee with the required dimensions for a new
Engine House large enough to accommodate all three of the towns engines. An estimate was to be sought from a Mr. Witt of
Fordingbridge as to the cost of enlarging the present Engine House in Green Lane and also as to the cost of constructing a new
House and of the annual letting price.
In September 1908 a reply was received from Mr. Pitt offering to take down the old Engine House and to erect a new one in Green
Lane measuring 29 ½ feet by 10 ½ feet with a height of 7 foot, for the sum of £35.00. A yearly rent of £2.00 was also to be charged
with a six year lease offered on the property. The Committee rejected Mr. Pitts offer and sought more favourable terms elsewhere.
In November 1908 an estimate was received from Messrs. G. W. Arney & Son showing a sketch of an Engine House with a 36 foot
frontage and a height of 10 foot which also included a concrete floor and specially fitted brackets for drying canvas hose. They
offered to build the premises and let it to the Council for a term of twenty one years for the sum of £8.00 per annum. It was stated
that the old Engine House near the Church would be taken down and that the old materials would be reused. The Committee
recommended that the Council should accept this offer as a suitable answer to the problem of accommodating the town's fire
However, in June 1909 a letter was received from a Mr. Goode offering another site for the new Engine House in the form of a
disused store at Roundhill. The building was formerly in the possession of a Miss Pinhorn but was now in a bad state of repair.
Mr. Goode offered the premises to the Council for the annual sum of £5.00. The site was considered by the Council to be very
suitable for the purpose of the Fire Brigade but unfortunately they did not, at present, have the necessary capital in hand to rebuild
the store to the required standard. They agreed to put by £20 a year until they had sufficient funds available and it was decided that
the new Engine House would be at Roundhill whenever time and money permitted. Until then it was decided that Mr. Alexander
should be responsible for housing the fire engines at a suitable place.
In April 1911 Mr. Sidney Horsey was appointed as Assistant Superintendent of the Fordingbridge Fire Brigade.
In April 1913 a Traction Engine with a furniture van attached was passing through Burgate when some sparks from the engine set
fire to the roof of a thatched cottage. The fire was promptly extinguished by two local workmen with buckets of water.
Also in April 1913 the Fire Engine Committee looked at another site for the purpose of an Engine House. The stores of Messrs. W.
King & Son in Shaftesbury Street, which were for sale, were deemed to be a suitable site to keep the engines. At the same time
the Committee authorised Mr. Alexander to keep an eye out for a fire engine that could be obtained at a moderate price.
However by November 1913 negotiations regarding the purchase of the property in Shaftesbury Street had fallen through.
Eventually in 1914 work was started on the new Engine House at Roundhill with the contract being awarded to Sherings builders
of Fordingbridge. After several disagreements regarding the stations sliding doors and the general standard of decoration the
Brigade occupied their new premises the same year.
On the 5th November 1914 a report was made by the Superintendent A. E. Alexander as to the condition of the town's fire engines.
As the report shows the engines were not in a particularly good state of repair.
This engine has 200 feet of delivery hose and three lengths of suction hose. The wheels and carriage require thorough over
hauling and repair, also the body. The iron stay bar for fixing the handles is missing and requires replacing. A pair of lamps are
necessary and also two straps for the suction hose and the whole engine requires repainting.
The estimated cost of these repairs is £10.10.0.
This engine has 250 feet of delivery hose and three lengths of suction hose. We recommend that the engine be fitted with a pair of
shafts so that it may be used with one horse. The lamps are also unsatisfactory.
The estimated cost of fitting a pair of shafts together with a leather back strap is £3.7.6.
This engine has only one 45 foot length of delivery hose and no suction hose. We recommend that one 50 foot length of delivery
hose and one 8 foot length of suction hose be provided and that the engine be repainted.
The estimated cost of this is £4.10.0.
Mr. Alexander also informed the Committee that he had seen a good second manual, belonging to the Earl of Shaftesbury, which
he believed could be purchased for as little as £15. It was, however, pointed out by Mr. Alexander and Mr. Horsey that in the almost
entire absence of horses it would useless to buy another heavy engine such as a Steam Engine!
The Council however did not consider that the town's machines required replacing and ordered that the middle sized engine and
the small engine be repaired and repainted.
A fire broke out on a Sunday afternoon in May 1918 in a store at the rear of Mrs. Privett's Chemist shop in the High Street. The
contents of the store were of a very inflammable nature and for a time burnt furiously. The fire was confined to the store.
In the early 1920's the local butcher, Mr. May, used to own a barn at Redbrook which unfortunately caught fire one day. On receiving
the report of the fire the Superintendent of the Fordingbridge Brigade cycled down to view the fire and to see if it was worth calling
out his team. On making a decision he returned to Fordingbridge and for some time searched for an available horse to draw the
engine to the fire. There is now no sign of this barn!
The Fordingbridge Fire Brigade seems to have gone into a decline around 1920 and gradually it appears they ceased in operation.
At a meeting to discuss the safety of the town’s Workhouse inhabitants in the event of a fire, in March 1924, the existence of the
Fordingbridge Fire Brigade was raised. Amidst much laughter it was stated that there was somewhere in the town an antiquated
fire engine, no Firemen and some hose that should probably be in the Salisbury museum! The chairman of this meeting was Mr.
S.B. Rake who, several years later, would experience the inadequacy of the local Fire Brigade.
On the 11th April 1924 the Fire Engine Committee again wrote to the Superintendent Mr. Alexander to ask as to the present state of
the town's fire engines and equipment.
On the 25th April 1924 a reply was received from Mr. Alexander stating that the engines and equipment would be virtually useless
in the event of a fire.
In May 1924 Fordingbridge Parish Council admitted that the towns fire engines were insufficient and asked if the District Council
would assist them in providing more modern equipment. During the meeting it was stated by a Council member “that an efficient
engine was not of much use without a fire brigade”. It was also the feeling of the Council that the Salisbury Fire Brigade could be
well relied upon to deal within any situation in Fordingbridge. The District Council therefore declined any assistance to
An offer was received at the same time from the Salisbury Fire Brigade to provide fire cover for the town in the shape of two motor
fire engines, small ladders and about 3500 feet of hose in return for an annual retaining fee of £25.00. It is known that members of
the Committee met with the Salisbury Fire Brigade on the 5th June 1924 but it is not recorded as to whether an agreement was
ever reached on this issue or not.
A house in Back Street, owned by Mrs. Chubb and occupied by Mrs. C. Bryant, was destroyed by fire on the night of Thursday 11th
November 1926. Before the arrival of the fire engine, volunteers saturated the thatched roofs of nearby houses. When the manual
arrived it was got to work from a stream which ran past the house and it was past midnight before the fire was extinguished.
An outbreak of fire nearly gutted Oaklands, Fordingbridge, the residence of Mr. S. B. Rake in January 1929. The Police were
immediately informed and telephoned for the Salisbury Fire Brigade who, under Third Officer Woott, were playing water on the
building within half an hour of the summons. Their water was supplied from a pond some 300 yards away. The damage was
estimated at £2500 and the greater portion of the house was entirely burnt out.
Chapter 3 - The Fire Brigades Act 1938.
In 1938 the Government introduced the "Fire Brigades Act" which brought about the need for greater organisation within local
brigades. Therefore, the same year Fordingbridge Fire Brigade became the direct responsibility of the Ringwood and
Fordingbridge Rural District Council.
The Brigade continued to operate from the station at Roundhill and under the command of Superintendent Horace Willetts
provided fire cover for the town using a Hudson car converted for use as a fire appliance by 'Lines' of Boscombe. The vehicle was
purchased by the community and used to belong to a Duchess in Linwood. The Brigade charged local people one guinea to ride
from the Fire Station to Godshill to help cover the cost.
At the start of the Second World War an A.F.S. unit was established to the rear of Mr. Coleman's shop in the High Street. A Morris
Cowley car was used to tow a light pump if required. It is believed that the wartime crew was:
Mr. Coleman, Mr. Salafia, Mr. Hood, Mr. Arney & Mr. Gouge.
Chapter Four - The National Fire Service Years.
On the 18th August 1941 Fordingbridge Fire Brigade became amalgamated in the newly formed National Fire Service becoming
part of 'Fire Force 16'. It's N.F.S. number was 16-C-3 Station U with Fordingbridge being a sub station under the control of
Ringwood. In 1941 Fordingbridge had an establishment of nine retained personnel who manned the Hudson appliance and a
light trailer pump.
Whilst fighting a forest fire at Pitts Wood Inclosure near Godshill one night during the war Fordingbridge fireman were subjected to
a bombing raid by German planes who had spotted the flames from overhead.
A Messerschmitt fighter plane was shot down later on in the War at Bramshaw Telegraph with a Fordingbridge crew attending to
make the area safe.
The home of a Miss. Deacon at Blissford was completely destroyed after a mid air collision between three P-38 Lightening Aircraft
from Stoney Cross. One of the planes crashed, killing the Pilot, several feet in front of her Cottage spraying it with petrol. Miss
Deacon’s dog was badly burned but survived. The work of the Fire and Rescue crews was extremely hazardous as one of the
aircraft’s large bombs was buried under the wreckage and live ammunition exploded at regular intervals.
Also the Albany Hotel in Bridge Street caught fire during the height of a German bombardment. This caused the locals some
distress as they were afraid that the enemy would use this as a guide and flatten the entire town!
Towards the end of the Second World War the Fordingbridge fireman moved into new premises in Salisbury Street, which later
became the site for the now disused Post Office, and around 1946 it was renumbered station 16.B.9 and was reclassed as an 'F'
In March 1948 Fordingbridge received a Fordson Pump Escape (GGK 166) to replace the Hudson conversion appliance. This was
built on a Fordson Thames Chassis and had a forward mounted Barton pump. Due to the National Fire Service policy of keeping
two different types of appliance on certain fire stations during World War Two there was also a Fordson Water Tender (GXM 868),
which towed a light trailer pump, on the run at Fordingbridge.
Chapter Five - The Hampshire Fire Service.
With the abolition of the National Fire Service on the 1st August 1948 Fordingbridge became part of the Hampshire Fire Service
being numbered station 47 in the Brigade's 'D' Division (D47). The station was now under the command of Sub Officer Bert King.
In early 1949 Fordingbridge began to receive fire calls via an experimental turnout system devised by the G.P.O. This was known
as System ‘D’ and utilised the exchange line network between the Brigade’s Headquarters at Winchester and Fordingbridge,
automatically operating the siren above Lloyds Bank and the firemen’s house bells in the event of a fire. The annual charge for this
system was £25.00 and there was only one other Hampshire Fire Station, West End, using this system and only a total of fifty
This was a great improvement on the previous arrangement where the Officer in Charge at Fordingbridge had to receive the call
and was responsible for operating the Klaxon siren, which was situated above Mr.Arney’s store in Shaftesbury Street, in the event
of a fire. However, the System ‘D’ was not always reliable as Fireman Ron Baines, who was watchroom man at Fordingbridge for
thirty years recollected:
“I remember that one day the house bells operated on a day time call but the siren did not so I ran to Lloyds Bank and operated the
siren manually – my father came and kept the siren button pushed in for me so that I could report to the fire station."
June 1949 was a busy month for the crew. On the 14th June a fire broke out in Gosney's oil store at Stuckton damaging the two
storey building as well as a residential flat and also a quantity of paraffin and ironmongery supplies.
The 25th June saw a fire occur at McMillan’s Foundry in Fordingbridge where a single storey corrugated iron and timber building,
used as a workshop, was damaged along with some electrical machinery and bags of coal dust.
On the 28th June a sawmill at West Park Estate, Damerham suffered severe damage to power operated saws, diesel engines
and a large quantity of timber and sawdust. At this incident there was a serious shortage of water and a water relay of one mile in
length, using three pumps, was instituted from a stream.
On the 1st October 1949 Bob Kenchington took charge of the station and was to remain in this post until his retirement in 1961.
By 1950 the Fordson Pump Escape was in a bad state of repair and it was decided to replace it with a converted Austin Towing
Vehicle (ATV) with a trailer pump (GLR 77) which arrived on the 5th August 1951.
The Fordson Water Tender was also to be replaced, in order that the station could return to its correct compliment of one
appliance, by a new A40 van, although this did not actually arrive until early in 1952.
Also in 1950 it is recorded that one of the firemen put a spade through an electric cable whilst digging a hole for a hose hoist at the
Salisbury Street fire station. The final account for repair from the Electricity Board was - £6.7.6d.
On the 26th November 1950 the roof of Martin Church was seriously damaged by fire requiring the Fordingbridge firemen to be on
the scene for nearly eleven hours.
March 1952 saw a new appliance, a Commer (KAA 523), arrive at Fordingbridge to improve the town’s firefighting capabilities.
In 1953 the fire station in Salisbury Street was in need of some attention. The prefabricated hut to the rear of the station was in a
dilapidated state requiring major roof repairs and also repairs to internal linings. The estimated cost of which was approximately
In the August of 1953 the G.P.O., who owned the fire station site, informed the Hampshire Fire Service that it wished to extend the
local telephone exchange within the next three years by utilising the current fire station site. It was necessary therefore to look for a
new site suitable for housing the Fordingbridge Fire Station.
In September 1954 a new site was located in Station Road, Fordingbridge, with an area of 0.4 acres and costing £227.2.1d plus
legal costs. The approximate running costs for the Salisbury Street fire station and for the new proposed fire station were:
EXISTING STATION PROPOSED STATION
Rent - -
Rates £18.00 £67.00
Electricity £45.00 £45.00
Gas & Water £ 5.00 £ 5.00
Maintenance £40.00 £20.00
Furniture & Fittings £ 5.00 £ 5.00
On the 8th March 1955 the Hampshire Fire Service agreed to purchase the land in Station Road and also granted permission for
the building of a new fire station as long as the total cost of construction did not exceed £7,760.00 plus £275.00 for the Quantity
Surveyor's fees and expenses.
Also in March 1955 it was resolved that the Austin A40 van should be withdrawn and that Fordingbridge should just operate as a
one pump station with the continued establishment of twelve firemen.
On the morning of the 23rd July 1955 Fordingbridge firemen attended a plane that had crash landed near the Royal Oak Public
House at Fritham.
In 1956 the County Council agreed to the tender of T. Holdoway & Son Ltd amounting to £6,363.15.9d, together with any
reasonable incidentals, to construct the new fire station.
On the 15th December 1956 a serious fire occurred at the East Mills Woollen Factory as Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge recalled:
”We had been called to a chimney fire but when we were driving over the bridge out of town we could clearly see flames. On our
arrival we found the turbine house and main weaving shed were well alight. Luckily there was ample water available from the
nearby River Avon. It is the quickest I have ever seen suction hose made up!”
Reinforcements were called on from Ringwood & Cranborne and the main store was saved from destruction although the turbine
house and weaving shed were destroyed. Charlie Gouge received £1.19.0d for his six hours hard graft at this incident.
In February 1957 a serious fire occurred at Parkers Oil Store in Provost Street, Fordingbridge and on the 8th March 1957 a fire
broke out at the home of the local artist Augustus John at Fryern Court.
On the 21st July 1957 Fordingbridge’s new fire station was officially in operation and is still the home for the present crew and
An aircraft crash at Cuckoo Hill, Gorley on the 9th November 1957 saw Fordingbridge in action again whilst on the 26th February
1958 there was another call out to a plane crash, this time at Farewells Farm in Bisterne.
A special service call was undertaken on the 1st February 1959 when Fordingbridge firemen assisted with filling a steam train
with water at Fordingbridge Railway Station.
On the 9th and 10th October 1960 Fordingbridge and the surrounding villages suffered badly with flood water which helped keep
the fire crew busy!
On Boxing Day 1960 Fordingbridge was one of the stations called to the serious fire at the Picket Post Hotel near Ringwood and
spent several hours damping down the blackened shell of the property.
In the early 1960's Fordingbridge Fire Station took an active part in many competitions. They excelled in the major pump drills and
won several cups for their efforts including the District final at HMS Sultan in Gosport in 1962.
At around 1320 hours on the 22nd March 1961 a call was received to a fire at Lewtas Motor Cycle Shop in Salisbury Street. Charlie
Gouge was on the crew that day and recalled:
”When we got there the workshop was well alight. We got two jets to work even before the driver had time to put his boots on and
managed to get the fire, which had been started by petrol leaking from a motorbike while the mechanic was out on his lunchbreak,
under control quite quickly.”
Unbeknown to the crew at the time but a Chief Fire Officer from up North had witnessed all the action and took the trouble that
afternoon to seek out Sub Officer Kenchington and congratulate him on his crew’s professionalism.
On the 1st October 1961 Bob Mouland took over as Officer in Charge of the station following the retirement of Bob Kenchington
During very severe weather conditions in 1962 the wiring in the Fordingbridge siren burnt out when it was operated for a fire call.
So that the station could return to normal as soon as possible Messrs. Goodwins, the Brigade siren maintenance contractors,
carried out the required repair work at the cost of £30.00 for rewiring and £20.00 for the installation of a temporary siren.
On the 27th August 1963 Fordingbridge firemen were called to assist the Police to recover a body in the weeds of the River Avon at
The early hours of Boxing Day 1963 saw Fordingbridge being sent to Esso Fawley to assist at a large fire there. Fordingbridge
crews were mobilised to Esso Fawley a couple of times throughout the 1960’s.
In 1964 an Auxiliary Fire Service Unit was re-established at Fordingbridge and although they never actually fought a live fire they
participated in many drills and competitions. The A.F.S. contingent consisted of six auxiliary firemen and four auxiliary firewomen.
Sadly they were officially disbanded in April 1968 amidst quite a lot of media attention in the local newspapers. Members of the
Fordingbridge A.F.S. included; Leading Auxiliary Fireman Jim Palmer, Leading Auxiliary Firewoman Jane Kenchington and
Auxiliary Fireman John Carpenter.
1965 saw Fordingbridge called to two separate incidents where they had to come to the assistance of people in precarious
On the 26th April 1965 they released a young boy stuck down a hole in Ringwood Road, Alderholt and on the 6th June 1965 they
had to rescue a man who had fallen down a well at Down Farm, Martin.
On the 1st July 1965 the Fire Service began to rent a small garage next door to the station in Candy’s Yard for the annual rent of
£52.00. This was for the sole purpose of housing a Landrover appliance (YOR 207) which was an addition to the station’s fleet.
Also in 1965 Fordingbridge was placed into Sub Division D.3. along with Ringwood, Burley & Christchurch. However, this
arrangement did not last for long.
The 6th July 1966 saw another daring rescue carried out by Fordingbridge firemen when they were called to a boy stuck in a toilet
In 1967 the station underwent building work to provide an additional appliance bay and a Landrover bay. The extension was
undertaken by Messrs. G. Wayman & Sons for a total price of £2,374.15.0d and was completed in March 1968.
1967 saw a serious fire at 'The Cottage' at Sandy Balls in May and in July the Brigade were called to release a man trapped under
his car at Frogham.
On the 28th September 1967 Fordingbridge were seen rescuing a man from a gravel pit at Blashford and in the October they
tackled a barn fire at Burgate.
The 3rd December 1967 saw a 'Bubble car' badly damaged by fire in Fordingbridge car park.
In July 1968 the old Commer (KAA 523) was replaced by a Bedford TK (MCG 557F).
At 1450 hours on Saturday 8th February 1969 crews from Fordingbridge and Ringwood Fire Stations were called to a house fire at
6 Lower Bartons, Fordingbridge where sadly an elderly lady was found to have died.
On the 7th May 1969 a fire occurred at Fordingbridge Junior School. Mr. Bill Bray, the Headmaster at Fordingbridge for many years
"Just before nine o'clock that morning the teachers were gathering around the old table, in what is now the East Room at Avonway,
planning the day's events when a tiny child plucked at Miss. Cherrett's skirt shouting “please Miss the school is on fire!” The
youngster was gently coaxed back into the playground leaving the teachers in peace. The child returned with some friends and this
time the teachers attentions were raised - smoke was rising from the back of the school. The fire bell was rung and the children
were swiftly marched across to the Drill Hall yard. The fire engine with Leading Fireman Vic Oxford on the crew soon arrived. Mr.
Oxford was also the school caretaker but unfortunately did not take his keys with him to fires! So a very fit Headmaster had to run
up to the Bartons for the keys and helped Fordingbridge Fire Brigade save the day!"
September 1969 saw a serious house fire at Whitsbury whilst on the 28th December 1969 Fordingbridge were again involved in a
major incident at Esso Fawley.
The 9th April 1970 found Fordingbridge firemen rescuing a horse which had fallen into a pit at Gorley Garage whilst on the 13th
September 1970 they were called to the scene of a plane crash at Martin Drove End. September 1970 also saw Fordingbridge
undertake training in the newly provided breathing apparatus sets – a great asset to the station.
A serious fire at Wilton's Toy Shop in Salisbury on the 16th February 1973 saw Fordingbridge in action again whilst on the 31st
May 1973 a fatal helicopter crash occurred at Whitsbury.
On the 13th January 1974 Fordingbridge firemen were called out to pump flood water from the Fire Station due to severe flooding
problems in nearby West Street.
On the 2nd March 1974 Fordingbridge firemen managed to save the thatched roof of Channel Hill at Damerham when it caught
alight – sadly the same property was struck by lightning in 1983 and this time the roof was completely lost
A man who was trapped underneath a tractor at Whitsbury needed the services of Fordingbridge Fire Brigade on the 5th June
Chapter Six - The Hampshire Fire Brigade.
A local government review in 1974 saw Fordingbridge become part of the Hampshire Fire Brigade following the amalgamation of
the Hampshire Fire Service, City of Southampton Fire Brigade and Portsmouth City Fire Brigade. The station remained as D47.
On the 13th February 1975 Fordingbridge firemen were called to Brookheath Cottage at Whitsbury to rescue a cat which was stuck
up a tree.
During a Wednesday drill night on the 11th June 1975 a call was received to a thatch roof fire to the rear of the Horse and Groom
Public House at Woodgreen. The roof and property were extensively damaged in the blaze.
Another serious house fire occurred at Forest Road in Hale on the 28th December 1975.
The long hot summer of 1976 saw Fordingbridge tackle grass and heath fires on a daily basis from April till September. Among
the most memorable were the forest fires at Avon Causeway on the 10th July 1976 that attracted the attendance of twenty pumps
and the thirty pump fire at Ringwood Forest on the 11th July 1976.
Shortly after the end of the busy summer period of 1976 members of Fordingbridge Fire Station were invited to a special dinner
held at the Ashburn Hotel, Fordingbridge. The evening was arranged by Fordingbridge Parish Council to acknowledge the hard
work and effort of the station during this period.
A ‘thankyou’ to the Fordingbridge fire crew at the Ashburn Hotel in 1976
Back row L-R: John Mouland, Steve Coles, Colin Coley, Alan Brooks, Ken Coles, Brian Perkins
Front row L-R: Ewert Stevens, Alf Brewer (Chairman Parish Council), Bob Mouland,
Charlie Gouge, ‘Spud’ Murphy, John West
Following the fierce forest fires of 1976 a new Landrover (KPX 240P) arrived at Fordingbridge to replace the ageing Landrover
A house at Mill End, Damerham was badly damaged by a blaze on the 30th January 1977 and on the 5th February 1977 there was
a fatality in a caravan fire at Sandy Balls, Godshill.
In June 1977 Fordingbridge received a Bedford S (YHO 398) to use as a Water Appliance to assist with initial water supplies at
property and forest fires. Basically this was a stripped down appliance with no ladder or equipment and had previously served at
Fordingbridge’s Water Appliance – Bedford S (YHO 398)
The thatched roof and an adjoining workshop of a property in Breamore caught alight at 6.30 in the morning of September 6th
1977. Five pumps assisted Fordingbridge crews in subduing the flames.
Thatch roof fire at Breamore – 6th September 1977
Fordingbridge’s Bedford TK Water Tender (MCG 557F) stands in the foreground
A range of farm buildings were badly damaged in a blaze which broke out at Lopshill Farm in Crendell on the 16th October 1978.
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel in 1979
L-R: K.Coles, L.Jones, J.West, C.Gouge, T.Harris, R.Baines, A.Brooks,
C.Coley, J.Mouland, S.Coles, B.Perkins
In 1979 Len Jones took over as Officer in Charge following the retirement of Bob Mouland. Sub Officer Mouland received the British
Empire Medal for his services to the Brigade and the community of Fordingbridge.
On the 8th August 1979 a car, a lorry and an army tank were involved in a collision on the A338 road at Charford with a
Fordingbridge crew attending to make the scene safe.
Road Traffic Accident involving a tank – 8th August 1979
On the 28th December 1979 there was again serious flooding in West Street and Provost Street, Fordingbridge which required
pumping out by the Brigade.
Also in 1979 a replacement Water Appliance went on the run at Fordingbridge (HOR 208E) and
was again used to assist with initial water supplies at forest fires and other incidents.
Fordingbridge’s Water Appliance (HOR 208E)
A serious fire badly damaged a terraced house at Redbrook Cottages, Redbrook on the 15th January 1980 and Fordingbridge
firemen were called to rescue a cow that had fallen down a well at Ogdens on the 2nd March 1980.
Late at night on the 21st April 1980 a major forest fire broke out near Ashley Walk at Godshill. It took the crews of eight pumps all
night to subdue the flames.
The occupants of 6 Shaftesbury Street, Fordingbridge had to be rescued from their blazing terraced house after a serious fire had
developed there on the 10th January 1981.
Shaftesbury Street Persons Reported January 1981 and a happy ending with a young boy safely rescued
The roof of a large house at Bleak Hill, Harbridge was badly damaged by a blaze in November 1981. The 5th May 1982 saw the
Churchill Arms at Alderholt badly damaged by a fire that had started in a bedroom.
A fire at Stoby’s fish and chip shop in Salisbury saw a crew from Fordingbridge called to assist their Wiltshire colleagues at this
major fire on the 6th July 1982.
In January 1983 the Water Appliance was replaced by a Water Carrier (UTP 78K) capable of holding 900 gallons of water. This had
been converted from a Dennis pump ladder, originally stationed at B24 Southsea, by Brigade Workshops.
John Mouland & Colin Coley pictured with Fordingbridge’s new Water Carrier (UTP 78K) January 1983
Fordingbridge Fire Station – January 1983
On the 12th August 1983 Fordingbridge attended a thatch roof fire at the Old Beams Inn at Ibsley and battled for several hours with
Ringwood, Burley and Lyndhurst crews to save the roof.
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel in 1983
L-R: C.Gouge, A.Brooks, M.West, D.Palmer, R.Baines, C.Coley, L.Jones,
J.Mouland, K.Coles, D.Stone, S.Coles, J.West, D.Jones
A new HCB Angus Water Tender (A33 OPX) arrived in December 1983 to replace the ageing Bedford.
Colin Coley & Len Jones with Fordingbridge’s new Water Tender (A33 OPX)
In early 1984 a fire broke out in Molly Parker's store in Provost Street, Fordingbridge. The shop was full of all sorts of combustible
materials and was therefore extensively damaged by the blaze.
Fordingbridge Fire Station – November 1984
In 1985 a new Landrover (GPX 583N) arrived at Fordingbridge. This had been originally stationed at A4 Fleet.
Fordingbridge’s Landrover (GPX 583N)
Also in 1985 Fordingbridge attended a Microlite which had crashed into the crowd at a fete, causing the death of a lady, at
Fordingbridge Junior School on the 28th September.
In 1986 Steve Coles took over as the Officer in Charge following the retirement of Len Jones.
On the 15th August 1986 Fordingbridge were the first to arrive at a serious fire that destroyed the Alderholt Surplus Stores
Alderholt Surplus Stores well alight – 15th August 1986
The horrific murders of 5 people at Burgate House, Fordingbridge on the 2nd September 1986 made national headlines and
carried pictures of the Fordingbridge firemen on the front pages of the daily papers and television screens all around the world
Burgate House, Fordingbridge – 2nd September 1986
Fordingbridge were called to assist at the spectacular eight pump fire at the Optica factory on Old Sarum Aerodrome in Salisbury
on the 16th January 1987.
The Albany Hotel in Bridge Street, Fordingbridge suffered serious damage during the five pump fire there in the early hours of the
11th January 1988.
The Albany Hotel, Fordingbridge – 11th January 1988
A fire in a thatch roof at Woodgreen in May 1988 caused severe damage whilst on the 24th November 1988 Fordingbridge firemen
along with a Coastguard helicopter from Lee-on-Solent rescued the television news presenter, Sue Saville, from the depths of the
New Forest after she had injured her back whilst horse riding.
Thatch roof fire at Woodgreen – May 1988
The farmhouse at Moor Farm in Fritham was virtually destroyed by an early morning fire on the 7th January 1989 whilst the A338
road claimed several lives at serious road traffic accidents during early 1989.
The 6th August 1989 saw a Fordingbridge crew called to one of the most spectacular fires they are ever likely to attend. The early
morning destruction of the Maltings Shopping Centre in Salisbury attracted the attendance of fifteen pumps and lit up the night sky
over Salisbury for several hours.
Below shows Fordingbridge Fire Fighters at the Maltings
The following day Fordingbridge firemen had to contend with a six pump field fire at Whitsbury Manor Stud, Whitsbury.
A fibre glass factory at Glendale Farm, Whiteparish was badly damaged in a 5 pump fire on the 18th August 1989. Acetylene
cylinders, which had been involved in the fire, had to be cooled for several hours at the scene.
The huge forest fire on the A31 at Bratley Arch on the 8th September 1989 saw Fordingbridge firemen occupied for many hours
whilst on the 14th November 1989 they were called to assist their Ringwood colleagues at the serious six pump fire at the High
Corner Inn at Linwood.
Fire at The High Corner Inn – 14th November 1989
Also in November 1989 Fordingbridge crews attended two fatal road traffic accidents at Breamore and Martin Drove End.
Road Traffic Accident at Breamore – November 1989
Fordingbridge’s Water Tender (A33 OPX) with a Bus that had
been blown off the A338 road during the storm of January 1990
A local farm worker who had broken his leg was rescued from a muddy ditch at Mill Farm, Alderholt on the 22nd May 1990 by
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel in 1990
Back Row L-R: M.West, D.Stone, J.Mouland, D.Smith, C.Coley, P.White
Front Row L-R: D.Horsburgh, P.Dorrington, S.Coles, D.Jones, D.Palmer
On the 26th June 1990 a serious fire at Yew Tree Cottage, Whiteparish virtually destroyed the building, attracting the attendance of
6 pumps including Fordingbridge's.
A cow, heavily in calf, was released from a deep slurry pit at Glebe Farm in Rockbourne on the evening of 21st October 1990. Both
mother and baby survived their ordeal.
Fordingbridge were called to assist at a six pump fire at the Chef Peking Restaurant in Salisbury on the 27th November 1990. The
roof of the premises was badly damaged.
Early in the morning of the 28th September 1991 Fordingbridge attended a fatal road traffic accident on the A338 road at Gorley.
Barn fires were all the rage in 1991 it seemed. Stories appeared in the local papers claiming that there was someone starting the
fires deliberately after several incidents occurred within close proximity to each other.
Barn fire in Rockbourne - 31st August 1991
Another large forest fire broke out on the 23rd May 1992 at Kingston Great Common near Burley attracting the attendance of ten
pumps and eight Landrovers including Fordingbridge's.
The Alderholt Surplus Stores suffered further damage on the 26th August 1992 when a lunch time blaze destroyed a large brick
Chapter Seven - The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
On the 1st September 1992 Fordingbridge became part of the newly named Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Their first shout
under the new identity was to lift a very large lady who had fallen out of bed at the Fordingbridge Nursing home and was unable to
be picked up off the floor by the nursing staff.
On the 14th October 1992 a large barn at Harbridge was badly damaged by fire requiring the attendance of six pumps.
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel in 1993
Back Row L-R: M.West, D.Stone, D.Palmer, Station Officer R.Kidd, P.White, D.Smith, D.Jones,R.Freeman
Front row L-R: K.Nicklen, P.Dorrington, C.Coley, S.Coles, J.Mouland, D.Horsburgh, A.Brooks
Work was started on improving the fire station drill yard in late 1993 with the area being enlarged and a new drill tower being
erected. The work was finally completed in the summer of 1994.
Also in 1993 more serious road traffic accidents occurred at Breamore and Gorley.
Probably the biggest fire ever in Fordingbridge broke out in the early hours of Saturday 8th January 1994. Fordingbridge firemen
battled all day, backed up by seven other crews, to extinguish Loaders Mill which was badly damaged throughout.
Loaders Mill lighting up the night sky over Fordingbridge – 8th January 1994
January 1994 also saw the furthest a Fordingbridge crew has ever travelled to an incident. On the 18th January Fordingbridge
were mobilised to assist with the major flooding operation at Hambledon, near Portsmouth, and spent the night pumping out
cellars and drains.
Fordingbridge crew at Hambledon
S.Coles, D.Stone, C.Coley, D.Smith, M.West, P.White
A cow was rescued from the muddy bank of the River Avon at East Mills in Fordingbridge on the 19th May 1994.
A fatal helicopter crash at Martin Drove End on the 8th June 1994 saw a Fordingbridge crew standing by at the scene for several
On the 13th June 1994 a Water Tender Ladder (H371 BTP) was placed at Fordingbridge to increase the station's rescue capability
at road traffic accidents and other incidents. The Water Tender (A33 OPX) was revamped by brigade workshops and placed at
Wickham Fire Station (B22).
Fordingbridge’s Water Tender Ladder (H371 BTP) with the Bridge in Fordingbridge in the background viewed from the recreation
Fordingbridge Fire Station 1994
On the 12th August 1994 Fordingbridge attended a serious fire at the White Hart Hotel in Salisbury. The roof and second floor of
the famous 17th century hotel was badly damaged in the fire which started just before 10am. A total of fifteen pumps, a Water
Carrier, two Aerial appliances, two Emergency Tenders, two Damage Control Units and a Control Unit tackled the blaze which was
one of the biggest fires to have occurred in Salisbury.
Smoke billowing from the roof of the White Hart in Salisbury
The 5th October 1994 saw Fordingbridge in action in Wiltshire again when they attended an eight pump warehouse fire at
Downton. The store contained a multitude of chemicals and coal and for a time gave off some rather nasty smoke.
Road Traffic Accident, A338, North Gorley – 20th October 1994
On the 20th October 1994 a serious road traffic accident occurred outside Gorley Nurseries on the A338 road involving a van and
an armoured Post Office lorry carrying the weekly pension money and on the 22nd October 1994 Fordingbridge were called on to
assist with the rescue of an injured horse rider from a muddy field near Alderholt Riding Stables.
A house fire at Fritham, on the 9th November 1994, had a dramatic moment when a petrol can ignited close to the BA crew, who
were just entering the building, engulfing them in a ball of flame - luckily no one was hurt.
At 0244 on a freezing cold morning on the 23rd December 1994 Fordingbridge attended a six pump fire at Cross Trees Cottage at
Breamore. The occupiers, Sir and Lady Westrow Hulse, had a lucky escape when they managed to escape from their burning
home by climbing down a knotted bed sheet from their bedroom window. Sadly the Grade One listed building and most of its
contents were destroyed in the fire. The hydrant pressure was very poor at this location and so a water shuttle, using two Water
Carriers, was carried out to supply the fireground with water.
The occupants of Cross Trees Cottage in Breamore escaped
from the inferno by climbing down the knotted bed sheet
Cross Trees Cottage burning furiously & Andy Brooks and Pete White
at the window of the occupants lucky escape – 23rd December 1994
Another serious road traffic accident occurred on the A338 road outside of Redbrook Cottages at Redbrook on the 19th January
1995 with the Fordingbridge crew being joined by crews from Lyndhurst, St. Marys and Salisbury fire stations.
Extremely high water levels on the River Avon led to flooding in the Bridge Street and Southampton Road areas of Fordingbridge.
The crew spent the day assisting with clearing the floodwater on the 1st February 1995.
A toddler was safely released from his bedroom after he had become stuck in after the door had jammed at Hillbury Road,
Alderholt on the 25th February 1995.
On the 28th February 1995 a Leyland Mastiff Water Carrier (GOT 357K) capable of holding 2000 gallons of water went on the run at
Fordingbridge replacing the much smaller Water Carrier (UTP 78K) which headed out to Rwanda to assist with supplying water to
remote villages and the suchlike.
Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier (GOT 357K)
A Bedford lorry carrying a large number of straw bales caught alight outside the Fordingbridge Nursing Home on the 24th July
1995. The lorry, and its contents, were destroyed in the fire which burnt furiously for several hours.
Lorry carrying straw bales – 24th July 1995
The following day a Fordingbridge crew attended a six pump heath fire at Dewlands Common in Verwood. The fire broke out on an
extremely hot afternoon and raged through trees and undergrowth over a large area and at one time threatened to engulf nearby
houses and stables as well as the Crane Valley Golf Course.
The month of August 1995 proved to be one of the busiest on record for Fordingbridge due a long spell of hot and dry weather.
One of the many forest fires from 1995
On the 2nd August they attended a six pump field fire at Waldrons Farm in Salisbury whilst on the 6th August the stations Water
Carrier assisted at a large blaze on Canford Heath in Dorset.
A young boy, on holiday in the area, required the services of Fordingbridge firefighters on the 16th August when he slipped and fell
about 100 feet down a steep incline at Castle Hill View Point near Godshill. Fordingbridge assisted the Ambulance Service with
the arduous task of hauling him up the treacherous slope to safety.
On the 17th August 1995 one of the biggest fires to have occurred in the New Forest for several years broke out at Broomy Lodge
near Linwood. The fire spread rapidly over 20 hectares of forestry land and required the attendance of seven pumps, five
Landrovers, three Water Carriers as well as a huge articulated Water Carrier from Esso Fawley Fire Department to subdue the
flames. Crews remained at the scene for several days, utilising Home Office Green Goddess appliances, damping down the
A fierce blaze destroyed a double garage and two cars in Burgate Fields, Fordingbridge early on the morning of the 21st August
with the smoke being visible for miles around.
The same day saw Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier mobilised to a huge fire alongside the M27 motorway at Eastleigh. Despite the
considerable distance that had to be travelled the incident was clearly visible from Godshill.
Acres of trees burning alongside the M27 motorway
A fatal road traffic accident occurred on the 30th August at Bickton crossroads with a Fordingbridge crew attending to make the
A fire at Hamptworth Lodge, Hamptworth on the 21st November 1995 badly damaged a workshop with Fordingbridge being joined
by crews from Salisbury and Lyndhurst to successfully save an adjoining property.
A call to a chip pan fire in a mobile home on 1st December saw Fordingbridge confronted with a serious fire with virtually
destroyed the building at Meadow View, Sandleheath.
The early hours of the 9th December saw three people rescued from a flat fire in Diamond Court, Fordingbridge. An unattended
pan had filled the premises with thick choking smoke and the occupants certainly had a lucky escape.
A cold spell of weather at the start of 1996 saw the brand new sixth form complex at The Burgate School devastated by flooding
after water pipes in the roof burst bringing down the ceilings in most of the newly furnished classrooms on the 3rd January. The
Fordingbridge crew assisted with clearing away the water and tidying up the debris along with school staff.
Kev Nicklen mopping up at the Burgate School sixth form block
A fire, caused by a suspected spark from a chimney, broke out at Keepers Cottage in Frogham on the 9th April 1996. When the first
appliance from Fordingbridge arrived one corner of the thatched roof was heavily involved in fire. Luckily damage was restricted to
about one third of the roof due to the hard work of the crews involved.
Thatch roof fire at Keepers Cottage, Frogham
On the 17th June 1996 a barn and a large amount of straw bales were damaged in a fire at Allenford Farm, Damerham.
The month of August 1996 saw Fordingbridge assisting in Wiltshire on a regular basis, both on standby at Salisbury Fire Station
and also dealing with minor fires on Salisbury’s ground. A serious fire however, was attended by a Fordingbridge crew at Kwik Fit
in Southampton Road, Salisbury on the 16th August. A large amount of tyres and several cars were destroyed in this mid afternoon
Fire at Kwik Fit, Salisbury – 16th August 1996
A serious road traffic accident in the early hours of the 19th August 1996 saw Fordingbridge confronted with a woman badly
trapped upside down in her vehicle at Court Hill, Damerham. The delicate operation to release the lady was successfully
completed with the entire crew being actively involved in her rescue.
A spooky experience occurred for the crew when a shed caught fire at 2am in the graveyard at Downton Cemetry.
Another serious road traffic accident outside Hucklesbrook Garage on the A338 at North Gorley saw Fordingbridge in action again
when they had to release the driver of a car after it had collided with a lorry on the 25th October 1996.
The month of November 1996 saw Fordingbridge involved in two serious industrial accidents.
The first, on the 6th November, occurred at Tarmac Topblock in West Street, Fordingbridge when a workman was crushed to death
underneath a concrete press. Fordingbridge crews released the victim and made the area safe.
The second was exactly a week later on the 13th November. A workmen was attempting to fix a leaking water pipe on the roof of
Loaders Mill when he crashed through a skylight and fell 30 feet into an empty grain hopper. Fordingbridge firefighters, assisted by
a crew from St. Marys fire station in Southampton, painstakingly lifted the seriously injured man back to the top of the hopper
before he was taken by helicopter to hospital.
Also in November 1996 Fordingbridge, along with the rest of Hampshire, received Gallet fire helmets to replace the long serving
Cromwell helmets. These new style helmets are of a French design and made of fibre glass with integral goggles and face
shields to provide better all round protection.
New style Gallet helmets
A Terrier dog required the services of Fordingbridge firefighters on the 19th December 1996 when it became stuck down a fox hole
at Toyd Corner. After a period of digging the dog was successfully released from its predicament.
On the 31st March 1997 the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service changed its structure from having four separate divisional areas
to only having three. As a result of this Fordingbridge became part of the newly restructured ‘C’ Division and was renumbered
On the 16th April 1997 a cow became trapped in a bog at Ashley Walk in Godshill. After an hour of digging and pulling the animal
was eventually released and taken to a nearby farm.
A large forest fire, on the 19th April 1997, at Markway Inclosure on the A35 road near Lyndhurst saw Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier
and Landrover in action for several hours at this 15 pump incident.
Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier (KTR 891P)
A new Leyland Mastiff Water Carrier (KTR 891P) went on the run at Fordingbridge on the 12th May 1997 replacing the previous
Water Carrier (GOT 357K) which was withdrawn from operational service.
Fordingbridge Fire Station 1997
The early hours of the 11th July 1997 saw Fordingbridge coming to the rescue of an unfortunate horse who had slipped down an
embankment and landed upside down in a narrow ditch.
A large barn and its contents were destroyed in a blaze at East Mills on the 7th August whilst on the 16th September 1997
Fordingbridge and Ringwood crews rescued two people and a dog from a house fire at Burgate Fields in Fordingbridge. The
same day new lightweight Sabre BA sets were introduced to make the wearing of breathing apparatus more comfortable.
A tragic incident occurred on the 9th February 1998 when a young female set herself alight in her car which was parked next to a
large stack of hay bales. Both the car and the hay bales were destroyed in a fierce blaze and despite the female being airlifted to
hospital from the scene by helicopter she sadly passed away later.
Two cows needed rescuing from a large slurry pit at West Park farm in Rockbourne on the 2nd May 1998 whilst on the 9th May
1998 another tragic accident saw Fordingbridge firefighters dealing with another major blaze. A fire broke out in a thatched
property, Park Gate in Breamore, following a dinner party which ended in a nightmare. One of the guests had for some unknown
reason covered himself in petrol and then gone back inside the property before accidentally setting himself on fire by getting too
close to a lighted candle. The inferno that followed destroyed the cottage and claimed the life of the individual.
Tragedy occurred at this thatch cottage fire – 9th May 1998
Fordingbridge received a brand new Landrover pump (R376 TRV) on the 10th June 1998.
Fordingbridge’s Landrover (R376 TRV)
On the 16th June 1998 a call was received to a cat stuck up a tree. On arrival the crew discovered a cat some 80 to 100 feet up an
oak tree. It proved difficult to get access to the animal so the RSPCA Inspector on site suggested that it was encouraged down with
a hosereel. An intrepid firefighter climbed to the top of the ladder and carefully took aim whilst the rest of the crew stood at the
bottom with a hearth sheet ready to catch the little feline. An accurate blast from the hosereel caught the cat perfectly and it flew out
of the tree and landed safely at the bottom.
An early morning blaze on the 2nd August 1998 saw the roof of the Old School in Alderholt badly damaged and required the
attendance of four pumps to extinguish the fire.
Fordingbridge firefighters on the roof of the Old School in Alderholt
A replacement Leyland Water Carrier (D624 DTR) went on the run at Fordingbridge on the 7th October 1998 having previously
served at Fawley Fire Station.
Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier (D624 DTR)
A serious accident occurred on the A338 at Bickton on the 13th November 1998 when a car ended up wrapped around three trees.
It took some time to release the female driver from the wreckage but thankfully she was not too seriously hurt.
The 4th March 1999 saw a fire break out in the workshops of Forest Road Garage in Hale. The involvement of acetylene cylinders
saw a lot of damage done to the property.
A dog had to be rescued by Fordingbridge firefighters when it’s head became wedged between the sections of a metal gate in St.
Georges Crescent on the 18th March 1999 and on the 26th March two drivers had to be released from the wreckage of another
fatal accident on the A338 road this time at Redbrook.
Road Traffic Accident, A338, Redbrook – 26th March 1999
An unusual incident took place on the 29th April 1999 when Fordingbridge were called to a house fire at Fishers Heron near East
Mills. On arrival it was discovered that a vivarium was involved in a small fire which had done little damage to the bedroom.
However the occupant of the vivarium, a large Iguana, had escaped and was wandering around the room. Eventually the
Fordingbridge crew cornered the animal and it was bundled into a wardrobe for its own safety.
Fordingbridge firefighters with the Motor Racing
commentator Murray Walker – July 1999
A barn was burnt to the ground at Padstow Farm, Fordingbridge on the 5th May 1999 and on the 17th October a call was received
to a fire at Salisbury Cathedral. Luckily the cause of the fire was only the safety netting around the huge columns of scaffolding that
had been erected whilst the Cathedral was having its stonework cleaned.
A country house was badly damaged when its thatch roof caught alight late in the evening of the 4th December 1999. The Little
Manor at Britford burnt furiously for some time before the attendance of 12 pumps managed to extinguish the blaze.
Christmas Eve 1999 is a night that Fordingbridge firefighters will never forget. After several days heavy rain Fordingbridge and the
surrounding villages were suffering badly from flooding and on Christmas Eve the situation got worse. Several calls to flooding
were attended before a call came in to people trapped in a swollen ford at Lawrence Lane, North Gorley. The Landrover from
Fordingbridge Fire Station reached the scene first with Leading Firefighter Colin Coley on board. On assessing the situation he
immediately jumped into the raging water to help assist a female who had become stuck in tree branches and was in a life
threatening predicament. The Water Tender Ladder arrived very shortly after and Firefighter Paul Dorrington joined Leading
Firefighter Coley in the water and the lady’s rescue was carried out to a happy conclusion. Three other people who were trapped in
the Range Rover were got to dry land by means of an extension ladder by the rest of the fire crew. The water was so deep in this
area that whilst driving to the scene the front headlights of the fire engine had been totally submerged under the flood water on the
The rescue of stranded motorists from a swollen ford – Xmas Eve 1999
In this picture the 9 metre ladder has been extended over
on to the roof of the submerged Range Rover
As a result of the actions performed at this incident the attending crew were awarded the following by the Chief Fire Officer of
Hampshire, Malcom Eastwood in March 2000.
Sub Officer Steve Coles – Chief Fire Officers Certificate of Congratulations
LFf Colin Coley – Chief Fire Officers Commendation/Order of St. John
Ff Dean Palmer – Chief Fire Officers Certificate of Congratulations
Ff Dave Stone – Chief Fire Officers Certificate of Congratulations
Ff Paul Dorrington – Chief Fire Officers Commendation/Order of St. John
Ff Pete White – Chief Fire Officers Certificate of Congratulations
The Fordingbridge crew with their certificates and the people they rescued
The certificate presented to six Fordingbridge Firefighters by
Chief Fire Officer Eastwood
following the events of Christmas Eve 1999
Some time later Leading Firefighter Coley and Firefighter Dorrington were presented with bravery awards from The Order of St.
John in respect of their actions that night in saving the life of the woman trapped in the water.
Paul Dorrington & Colin Coley receiving The Order of St John
The last day of 1999 saw Fordingbridge tackling a major fire which totally destroyed a wooden bungalow at Newgrounds in
Godshill. The fire started in the early hours and took several hours to extinguish
Bungalow fire at Newgrounds, Godshill – 31st December 1999
Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier was called to assist at a tragic fire on the 24th February 2000. Flames had swept through the
country home of MP Michael Colvin at Tangley House near Andover claiming the lives of both Mr. Colvin and his wife. It took the
attendance of 10 pumps to put out the fire before efforts could be made to recover the bodies.
The devastating fire at Tangley House – 24th February 2000
On the 28th March 2000 Fordingbridge were called to assist at a thatch roof fire at Rose Cottage, Hightown Hill, Ringwood. A total
of ten pumps tackled this fire which sadly destroyed the majority of the roof.
The Woodfalls Inn, Woodfalls suffered a fire in an office which caused serious damage on the 30th July and the following day
Fordingbridge attended a serious accident on the A338 at Charlton All Saints along with firefighters from Salisbury.
The premises of John Loader at Grimsdyke Granaries, Martin Drove End had a serious blaze on the afternoon of the 2nd August
2000. The fire started in a pile of pallets at the rear of the warehouse and developed into a fierce inferno. The incident was dealt
with by Fordingbridge, Cranborne and Salisbury crews.
Fire at John Loaders warehouse, Martin Drove End – 2nd August 2000
Another serious property fire occurred at Woodside Cottage, Horton Way, Verwood on the 19th October. The ground floor and
bedrooms of this house were seriously damaged with a Fordingbridge crew attending.
Two unusual rescues came Fordingbridge’s way towards the end of 2000. On the 9th November they were called to release a little
boys finger from a wooden toy train and on the 6th December they had to rescue a man from an overturned golf buggy way out in a
field at Martin.
An electrical fire broke out in the premises of Carl Hillwood hairdressers in the High Street, Fordingbridge on the 21st December
2000. A very impressive pall of smoke bellowed from the front door when Fordingbridge crews arrived but the fire was soon
extinguished with little damage.
An extremely eventful afternoon for Fordingbridge on the 14th April 2001 saw two serious property fires break out within an hour of
each other. The first was at Meadow Cottage in Woodgreen and saw much of the house damaged by a severe fire. The second
more devastating incident, at Deer Holt in Stuckton, started as a chimney fire. Sadly the fire spread very quickly and soon
developed into a major fire requiring the attendance of eight pumps. The property was completely destroyed and had to be totally
The fire ravaged ruin of Deer Holt in Stuckton
Numerous pigs were rescued by Fordingbridge and Salisbury firefighters after a fire broke out in a barn at Botleys Farm, Downton
on the 24th April 2001.
The Water Carrier from Fordingbridge attended a twenty five pump fire in a facory unit at Ferndown Industrial Estate, Dorset on the
22nd June 2001. The fire caused a huge column of smoke which was visible from miles around.
Fire at Ferndown Industrial Estate – 22nd June 2001
A smoke alarm, which had been presented to a young Fordingbridge schoolgirl by the Fire Station, prevented a serious fire taking
hold in her home on the 25th June 2001. The sun’s rays had magnified on a mirror in the girls bedroom, at Hyde Aways in
Sandleheath, and eventually set fire to the curtains and bedding. Thankfully the smoke detector operated and raised the alarm and
Fordingbridge firefighters were able to prevent the fire spreading.
A barn and its contents were badly damaged in a fire at Padstow Farm in Frog Lane, Fordingbridge on the 16th September 2001
and Fordingbridge were in action again on the 16th October 2001 when they were called to rescue a young man who had got stuck
on a roof in Pickets Close whilst attempting to fix his TV aerial.
A builders blow torch was responsible for a fire which devastated Post Box Cottage in Blissford Hill on the 31st October 2001. The
thatched roof burnt furiously and three firefighters were slightly injured when part of the roof collapsed on them. A total of eight
pumps attended this incident.
Thatch roof fire at Post Box Cottage, Blissford
On the 10th December 2001 a caravan fire resulted in its occupant receiving serious burns at Hunters Moon in Furzehill whilst
later in the day Fordingbidge were called to assist at another thatch roof fire in a property under restoration at Coombe Bissett.
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel 2001
Back Row L-R: R.Freeman, D.Palmer, D.Smith, D.Stone, K.Gray, M.West, P.White, J.Hesford
Front Row L-R: D.Horsburgh, P.Dorrington, C.Coley, S.Coles, J.Mouland, D.Jones, K.Nicklen, S.Waine
The New Year started with the first call of 2002 being received only eleven minutes into the 1st January. Fordingbridge were called
to Woodside Road, Bemerton Heath, Salisbury and rescued a female from a first floor window who was trapped due to a fire on
the ground floor.
Fordingbridge received a new Water Tender Ladder (P960 JTR) on the 13th February 2002.
Fordingbridge’s Water Tender Ladder (P960 JTR)
The old Scout hut at Courtwood Farm, Sandleheath was raised to the ground on the afternoon of the 16th March 2002 in a fire
which burnt fiercely for some time.
A thatch roof was badly damaged in a ten pump incident at Anna Lane in North Ripley near Ringwood on the 9th April 2002.
Fordingbridge crews attended and assisted with the removal of the large thatched roof.
Thatch Roof fire at North Ripley – 9th April 2002
Another thatch roof was destroyed on the 7th October 2002 at Brookside Cottage in Godshill Wood. This property was way down a
narrow track and oncoming appliances had difficulty gaining access to this nine pump fire.
A large horse had to be rescued from a muddy bog at Densome Corner, Woodgreen on the 19th October after it had become
trapped by the legs whilst out riding with its owner.
The 7th November 2002 saw a garage badly damaged in a fire at Normandy Way, Fordingbridge whilst in the early hours of the
following day a barn was destroyed in a fire at Flood Street in Burgate.
When an elderly lady became trapped in the framework of her bicycle in Bartons Road a Fordingbridge crew had the delicate task
of releasing her badly injured leg before she could be taken off to hospital on the 10th November 2002.
A large fire at Hinchelsea House in Brockenhurst, on the 6th December 2002, saw the attendance of eight pumps as well as
Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier. The blaze severely damaged this large wooden building which was undergoing renovation at the
Hinchelsea House, Brockenhurst – 6th December 2002
The final call for 2002 was to a six pump property fire at Bridge House, Stapleford, Wiltshire on the 31st December.
Ogdens Dairy Farm at Ogdens was extensively damaged in a fire on the 12th March 2003. This thatch roof blaze required the
attendance of nine pumps to save it from total destruction.
A large forest fire was attended by Fordingbridge at Newmans Lane, Holt on the 31st March whilst another major heath fire at
Tricketts Cross in Ferndown was attended on the 12th April 2003.
Some outbuildings and various items of farm equipment were totally destroyed in an afternoon blaze at Harbridge Farm in
Harbridge on the 16th April 2003. The incident had a slightly dramatic moment when an acetylene cylinder was discovered in the
debris but fortunately it was found to be empty.
The following day Fordingbridge were called to assist at a twenty five pump forest fire in St. Stephens Castle Nature Reserve,
Coopers Lane, Verwood. A large area of forest, several outbuildings and numerous cars was destroyed in this blaze.
Cars burnt furiously at St. Stephens Castle – 17th April 2003
A fatal road accident occurred on the B3078 at Bramshaw Telegraph when a car was hit by a lorry going the opposite way on the
19th May 2003. Fordingbridge and Lyndhurst crews released two casualties from the vehicle.
A fatal road accident occurred on the B3078 at Bramshaw Telegraph when a car was hit by a lorry going the opposite way on the
19th May 2003. Fordingbridge and Lyndhurst crews released two casualties from the vehicle.
The ‘CUTTING GEAR’ in use
Two outbuildings and many years of possessions and memories were sadly lost in a fire at a property called Deer Lee in Furzehill
on the 7th July 2003.
A case of vandalism caused a serious health risk to local children on the 28th July 2003. The summer holiday play scheme had to
be evacuated due to the Fordingbridge Junior School swimming pool being broken in to and numerous chemicals being dumped
into the water giving off some rather toxic fumes. Crews from Fordingbridge, Ringwood and St. Marys stood by at the scene for
several hours before it was deemed safe to hand the situation over to a specialist company.
Protective equipment in use at Fordingbridge Junior School
Fordingbridge were in action again at a four pump fire when the famous Red Lion Hotel in Salisbury suffered a fire in a bedroom
and along external cladding on the 9th August 2003 which was one of the hottest days of the summer!
Fire at The Red Lion Hotel, Salisbury – 9th August 2003
On the 22nd August 2003 a helicopter made an emergency, but safe, landing in a field just off the A338 at Harbridge with
Fordingbridge standing by whilst it was recovered by staff from Bournemouth Airport.
Helicopter landing at Harbridge – 22nd August 2003
Also in August, on the 28th, Fordingbridge firefighters had to come to the dramatic rescue of a young boy on holiday in the area. A
call was received to the Rockbourne Roman Villa and on arrival the crew were faced with a child with a piece of authentic chain
mail wedged fast around his neck. With the careful operation of a pair of snips the historic artefact was carefully removed from the
young man and returned to the museum!
A fierce blaze late at night on the 4th September 2003 totally destroyed a large wooden toilet block at Longbeech campsite at
Stoney Cross. The blaze was successfully extinguished by Fordingbridge and Lyndhurst firefighters.
The evening of the 16th October 2003 was to prove a busy one for the Fordingbridge crews. Firstly they were called to rescue a
large cow that had fallen into the River Avon at Charford Manor Farm. After considerable pushing and pulling the grateful animal
was dragged to safety and placed in a nice warm pen for the night.
The second ‘shout’ of the evening brought about a first for Fordingbridge. Both the Water Tender Ladder and the Water Carrier
were mobilised to a fifteen pump property fire at St. Anthonys Road in Westbourne, Bournemouth. The entire house was totally
engulfed by fire.
St. Anthony’s Road in Bournemouth – 16th October 2003
The thatched roof of the Apple Tree Inn at Redlynch was severely damaged after a chimney fire spread to the thatch on the 20th
October 2003. The fire took several hours to bring under control with crews from both Hampshire and Wiltshire working together.
Fordingbridge received new Breathing Apparatus sets on the 5th November 2003. Manufactured by Draegar the new sets featured
individual face masks for all personnel and modern state of the art technology to help improve the safety of BA wearers at
The end of 2003 saw Fordingbridge Fire Station with its busiest ever year on record with a total of 260 incidents attended
Fordingbridge Fire Station 2003
A Fordingbridge crew attended a fatal road traffic accident on the A338 at Redbrook on the 27th February 2004 whilst the following
afternoon they successfully saved the thatched roof of Forest Cottage in Hyde after a hot ember had come out of the chimney pot
and landed in the surrounding thatch. Luckily a neighbour spotted the smouldering roof which enabled the quick arrival of
Fordingbridge, Ringwood and Cranborne crews and prevented the situation becoming much worse.
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel – February 2004
Back Row L-R: Leading Firefighter P. White, Leading Firefighter J. Mouland, Sub Officer S. Coles,
Leading Firefighter C. Coley, Firefighter D. Palmer
Middle Row L-R: Firefighter S. Waine, Firefighter D. Smith, Firefighter D. Stone, Firefighter S. White,
Firefighter J. Hesford, Firefighter M. West
Front Row L-R: Firefighter P. Dorrington, Firefighter D. Horsburgh, Firefighter R. Freeman,
Firefighter D. Jones, Station Officer J. Hinton (Link Officer), Firefighter K. Nicklen
Also in February 2004 Fordingbridge’s appliances were all adorned with large station 47 numbers to ease identification at large
Water Tender Ladder (P960 JTR) displaying
the new station ID numbers
A fire in a first floor flat above Jessica’s in the High Street at Fordingbridge caused early evening chaos in the town centre on April
30th 2004. The crews attending helped save the stock of the ground floor dress shop and successfully prevented the fire
spreading to adjacent properties. See below.
Many past and present Fordingbridge firefighters were reunited at a special evening at the station on Friday 7th May 2004. The
length of service to the town, between all those present, was spread over fifty years with the oldest members, Charlie Gouge and
John Shering, having joined back in 1954 whilst the stations newest member, Dan Palmer, was just completing his recruits
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel 1954 – 2004
Back Row L-R: Colin Coley, Nigel Whatley, Dan Palmer, Bernie Merrick, Mark West, Paul Dorrington, Dean Palmer, John West,
Les Bailey, Charlie Gouge, John Shering, Arthur Cox, Derek Jones, Jim Hesford
Front Row L-R: Dave Stone, Ross Freeman, Stuart Murphy, Ray Harris, Roger Kenchington, Len Jones, Steve Coles, Peter Larkin,
Pete White, John Mouland
An unfortunate road accident on the B3078 near Bramshaw Telegraph saw Fordingbridge called to make the scene safe on the
23rd May 2004. A seventy year old Austin 10 motor car was badly damaged after being struck by another vehicle
The vintage motor car damaged in an accident – 23rd May 2004
On the 26th May 2004 Fordingbridge dealt with a forest fire at Alderholt Lake. On arrival a serious fire, which also involved
electricity poles, was discovered amongst the heathland and trees. A total of four pumps, two landrovers and a water carrier were
required to bring the blaze under control.
Damping down at Alderholt Lake – 26th May 2004
Another forest fire was attended by Fordingbridge on the 30th May 2004. The blaze, which destroyed three hectares of St.
Stephens Castle Nature Reserve in Verwood, was started by a motor vehicle catching alight. A total of five pumps and four
landrovers attended this incident.
A kitchen was severely damaged in a lunch time blaze at the Roman Catholic Church in Salisbury Road, Fordingbridge on the 1st
June 2004. The property was badly smoke logged throughout.
The following day saw Packbridge Cottage in Martin devastated by a fire which had started in the chimney. This listed thatched
property was well alight when the first crew from Fordingbridge arrived. Despite the attendance of ten pumps from Hampshire,
Dorset and Wiltshire there was nothing that could be done to save the premises.
Thatch roof fire at Packbridge Cottage, Martin – 2nd June 2004
In August 2004 the organisational structure of the HFRS was changed with the three Divisions (A, B & C) being removed and
smaller ‘Groups’ being put into place. This resulted in Fordingbridge becoming part of the New Forest North Group and simply
becoming known as Station 47.
A major exercise was staged at Salisbury Cathedral on the 11th October 2004 with a Fordingbridge crew attending. The use of
live casualties within the Cathedral building, whom required rescuing after a simulated structure collapse, saw all the emergency
services working together.
Dean Palmer & Pete White assisting with the removal
of a casualty from the Salisbury Cathedral exercise
On the 3rd November 2004 a hay barn and a tractor were destroyed during a fire at Vale Acre Farm in Cripplestyle, Dorset. Crews
from Fordingbridge remained at the scene all afternoon damping down the remains of the building.
Vale Acre Farm – 3rd November 2004
The first part of December 2004 saw Fordingbridge being called upon to rescue the unfortunate drivers of three vehicles that were
involved in serious accidents.
A complicated rescue involving the driver of a Jaguar XJS, which had collided with a tree on Hillbury Road in Alderholt, occurred
on the 5th December whilst on the 11th December the driver of a Robin Reliant had to be released after his vehicle rolled upside
in a ditch at Toyd Corner. Later the same morning a female had to be removed from her overturned car on the A354 Road at
Martin Drove End by Fordingbridge and Cranborne Firefighters.
A Jaguar XJS after full roof removal – 5th December 2004
The thatched roof of Dairy Cottage in Ibsley was completely destroyed after a late night fire on the 12th December 2004.
Fordingbridge crews assisted at this ten pump incident throughout the night
Thatch roof fire at Dairy Cottage, Ibsley – 12th December 2004
A lady who had suffered an unfortunate fall from a horse, near Dorridge Farm at Ogdens, needed the services of Fordingbridge
firefighters on the 29th January 2005. She was carried back to an ambulance and conveyed to hospital for a check up on her back
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel – January 2005
Back Row L-R: P. Dorrington, D. Stone, D. Palmer, M. West, D. Palmer, K. Nicklen, D. Smith, S. White
Front Row L-R: R. Freeman, C. Coley, S. Coles, J. Mouland, P. White, D. Jones
The early part of 2005 saw Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier attending two large incidents.
The first, on the 26th February, was an eight pump fire at Giddings Wood Yard in Netley Marsh. A range of wooden workshops
burnt furiously for several hours with the Water Carrier being used to shuttle water to the fireground from a hydrant close to the
Fire at Giddings Wood Yard, Netley Marsh – 26th February 2005
The second incident occurred at Wells Garage in Blashford, just outside Ringwood, on Mothering Sunday the 6th March 2005. A
large oil tank and a stack of tyres caught alight just before lunchtime and the pall of smoke from this five pump fire was visible for
some considerable distance. Again Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier was used to supplement water supplies at the scene.
Fordingbridge Fire Station personnel – June 2005
Back Row L-R: J. Hesford, C. Dedman, D. Palmer, D. Palmer, D. Jones,
D. Smith, P. Dorrington, S. White, M. West
Front Row L-R: R. Freeman, K. Nicklen, C. Coley, S. Coles, J. Mouland, P. White, D. Stone
On the 11th June a serious car accident occurred in the Borough at Downton when a car went out of control and crashed into a
house punching a large hole through the wall of the building. Fordingbridge and Salisbury crews released three casualties from
Another unfortunate horse rider required the services of Fordingbridge firefighters on the 23rd July 2005 when she was thrown
from her horse whilst out riding in the forest at Latchmore Bottom near Ogdens. The casualty was some considerable distance
from the road and had to be carried back across the forest by Fordingbridge personnel before being taken to hospital with
The roof of Appletree Cottage at Godshill was extensively damaged in a fire on the 31st July 2005. On arrival large volumes of
smoke coming from the building confronted Fordingbridge crews. With assistance from Ringwood and Lyndhurst firefighters the
fire was extinguished with the majority of damage being restricted to the roof area.
Roof fire at Appletree Cottage, Godshill – 31st July 2005
A barn full of straw bales caught alight early in the morning on the 23rd August 2005. Firefighters from Fordingbridge remained at
the scene all day until the fire was completely extinguished.
The Leyland Water Carrier (D624 DTR) was replaced on the 7th September 2005 and was subsequently purchased by Esso
Fawley’s Fire Department for use at the large oil terminal. The new Volvo Water Carrier (P914 KPX), which had originally been at
Fareham, was a smart addition to the station.
Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier (P914 KPX)
Fordingbridge firefighters were once again in action rescuing an injured horse rider in the New Forest on the 4th October 2005.
The unlucky man had been thrown from his mount and ended up in a World War Two bomb crater just off Ashley Walk in Godshill.
After being treated on scene for a broken leg the crew assisted in getting him out of the crater and into a waiting ambulance.
On the 29th October 2005 a fire broke out in the disused Moon Pub on Woodside Road, Bemerton Heath, Salisbury. It took six
pumps to extinguish the fire which caused damage to the roof and ground floor of the property.
Another six pump incident occurred at Malmesbury House, The Close, Salisbury on the 23rd November 2005 with a crew from
Fordingbridge attending. Decorators, using a blowlamp to remove old paintwork, had caused a fire to start in a large bay window
on the ground floor. The fire spread to the first floor and roof before it was brought under control. Fortunately the property,
overlooking Salisbury Cathedral, was not badly damaged.
An unfortunate accident occurred in Salisbury Road, Fordingbridge on the 19th December 2005 after a car collided with the rear of
a stationery Bus. The impact resulted in a large amount of engine oil leaking from the Bus all over the road causing a
considerable hazard. Fordingbridge firefighters attended the scene to assist with clearing up the spillage and making the scene
In the early hours of the 29th December 2005 a blaze broke out in a barn and an adjoining workshop at North Charford Manor
Farm, North Charford. The fire was burning furiously when Fordingbridge crews first arrived. The workshop contained several
Landrovers which were all totally destroyed. Due to the discovery of an Acetylene Cylinder within the building all firefighting
operations had to be withdrawn to a safe distance and a 200 metre exclusion zone was put in place. A total of six pumps and a
Water Carrier attended the incident and crews remained on site for twenty four hours.
A barn and workshop well alight at North Charford Manor Farm
29th December 2005
The thatched roof of Thyme Cottage at Blissford was saved from serious damage following a fire on the 29th January 2006. A
total of six appliances assisted Fordingbridge crews with stripping the thatched roof and preventing the blaze, which had started
near the chimney, from spreading to the remainder of the building.
Fordingbridge crews battling to save the thatched roof
of Thyme Cottage in Blissford – 29th January 2006
Another thatched property was damaged after a chimney fire spread to the roof of Rosemary Cottage in Hamptworth, Wiltshire.
The fire broke out late in the evening on the 18th March 2006 and Fordingbridge firefighters assisted crews from Salisbury,
Wilton, Lyndhurst, Romsey and Amesbury at the incident.
Thatch roof fire at Rosemary Cottage, Hamptworth – 18th March 2006
A large heath fire broke out the following day at Canford Heath in Poole, Dorset. The Water Carrier from Fordingbridge attended
along with a total of twenty five pumps and twelve Landrovers. It took several hours to bring the blaze, which was visible up to
twenty miles away, under control.
A serious fire occurred at Hatchett Cottage in Hale late in the evening on the 26th March 2006. The blaze, which had started in the
garage, unfortunately caused the resident to be overcome by smoke and suffer some serious burns. He was rescued from inside
the premises by Fordingbridge firefighters and despite being resuscitated at the scene the gentlemen sadly passed away
several days later in hospital.
On Saturday 1st April 2006 the Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service moved from the long standing rank based structure to a new
role based one. This brought about a change in names and rank markings for both the Sub Officer and the Leading Firefighters at
Sub Officer Steve Coles became a Watch Manager and received a white helmet whilst the three Leading Firefighters became
Crew Managers and received two black bands on their yellow helmets in place of just one black band.
The roles and associated insignia within the HFRS structure that
were introduced at Fordingbridge Fire Station from the 1st April 2006
L-R: Firefighter, Crew Manager & Watch Manager
Fordingbridge attended a serious fire which broke out at 33 Trinity Street in Salisbury early in the morning of the 16th May 2006.
The blaze, which started in a flat, spread to the roof area of the property and required the attendance of eight pumps to extinguish
the flames with the Fordingbridge crew assisting with salvage.
A serious road accident occurred on the A338 Road at Downton on the 14th June 2006. A crew from Fordingbridge, along with
Salisbury firefighters, released a casualty from one of the vehicles.
Early in the morning of the 25th June 2006 a fire broke out in a scrapyard at Riverside Car Spares, Southampton Road, Salisbury.
The blaze caused extensive damage to a large number of vehicles and other property within the yard. A total of eight pumps
attended this incident including both the Water Tender Ladder and the Water Carrier from Fordingbridge.
A large number of cars were damaged at Riverside Car Spares
in Salisbury with Fordingbridge crews supplying water to the
fireground from the Water Carrier – 25th June 2006
Fordingbridge firefighters were called out to assist the Ambulance Service on the 26th July 2006 when a cyclist came off his
mountain bike on a forest track near Ashley Walk in Godshill. The crew carried the injured rider, on a stretcher, across the uneven
forest ground back to the waiting ambulance.
A large fire at Parley Common in Ferndown, Dorset on the 14th August 2006 saw both Fordingbridge’s Water Carrier and
Landrover in action. Another heath fire at Backley Holmes on the A31 Road at Picket Post near Ringwood, on the 27th August
2006, saw the same two appliances from Fordingbridge assisting at this five pump incident.
Fordingbridge Fire Station – August 2006
A heath fire at St. Stephens Castle in Verwood, Dorset on the 29th August 2006 saw four pumps and eight Landrovers
extinguishing the blaze with Fordingbridge crews at the scene for the best part of two days assisting with damping down the
Damping down at St. Stephens Castle, Verwood
A serious road traffic collision on the A338 at Hucklesbrook on the 2nd September 2006 required Fordingbridge firefighters to
attend and release a casualty from one of the vehicles involved.
An unattended bonfire left smouldering in the disused yard of C. Coles & Son at Stuckton on the 9th September 2006 caused two
sheds, a lorry and an area of grass and undergrowth to be destroyed when the fire spread quickly through the site. The
Fordingbridge crew were initially called out to a tree on fire but on their arrival the buildings and lorry were found to be well alight
and it took several hours to extinguish the blaze.
Fire at the old C. Coles & Sons yard in Stuckton – 9th September 2006
An elderly lady required the services of Fordingbridge firefighters and the Coastguard helicopter after being thrown out of her
horse drawn trap on the 16th September 2006. The accident happened on a forest track at Hampton Ridge near Frogham and
the casualty was airlifted to hospital for treatment after the Fordingbridge crew had cleared an area of gorse to allow the
helicopter to land safely.
All part of the service! Towing the injured lady’s horse drawn trap out of
the Forest & back to a safe place using the fire engine – 16th September 2006
A large fire involving 100 tonnes of disused tyres broke out in the early hours of the 20th September 2006 at Matchams Park
Stadium in Matchams, Dorset. The Water Carrier from Fordingbridge assisted at this eight pump incident supplying water to the
Fordingbridge firefighters were called out to assist the Ambulance Service and the Fordingbridge Co-Responders on the 17th
October 2006. A workman had collapsed in the confined space of an attic room at a property called Fir View in Blissford Hill. The
injured male had to be carried down two flights of narrow stairs on a stretcher before he could be taken away to hospital.
A serious fire broke out in a Fish & Chip shop in Devizes Road, Salisbury on the 18th November 2006 with Fordingbridge’s
appliance assisting Wiltshire crews at this incident. The property was badly damaged by the blaze.
On the 2nd February 2007 Fordingbridge firefighters had to come to the aid of a black cat called Gizmo. The unfortunate moggy
had been stuck twenty feet up a tree, apparently for about two weeks, at Woodlands House in Sandleheath. As a ladder was
being placed up against the tree Gizmo sensed that his rescue was imminent so quickly climbed even higher before jumping
across into an even bigger tree! Despite some prolonged encouragement, from a steady stream of water from a jet, this hardy
feline appeared to be happy up in his new found abode and at one point was perched, precariously, on the highest limb about
seventy feet up. After more gentle persuasion Gizmo arrived at a much safer height within the tree and shortly afterwards was
successfully ‘flushed’ out of his hiding place. The following morning Gizmo returned to his owner for a well earned breakfast!
The roof of a property called Mellow Thatch in Rockbourne caught alight just before 5pm on the 16th March 2007. A successful
break was quickly made into the thatched roof by crews from Fordingbridge, Cranborne & Ringwood which meant that about half
the property was able to be saved from damage. The blaze had started around the chimney area but within two hours it had been
successfully brought under control. A total of six pumps attended this incident.
Thatch roof fire at Mellow Thatch, Rockbourne – 16th March 2007
A fire in a large garage at the Old Vicarage in Church Lane, Britford broke out on the evening of the 11th April 2007. A total of eight
pumps, including one from Fordingbridge, dealt with this blaze which for a while involved some fireworks that had been stored
within the building.
On the afternoon of the 21st April 2007 Fordingbridge were called to assist at a four pump fire in Ringwood. A caravan caught
alight on the driveway of a property in Hightown Road, Ringwood and the fire quickly spread to an adjacent caravan and a 4 x 4
vehicle as well as damaging the side of the house and an adjoining shed. Several gas cylinders also exploded during the blaze.
The Fordingbridge crew pictured damping down the remains of two caravans
and a 4 x 4 vehicle in Hightown Road, Ringwood – 21st April 2007
Fordingbridge’s Landrover damping down at Somerley – 2nd May 2007
A waste disposal lorry was badly damaged when it suddenly burst into flames outside The Fighting Cocks public house in
Godshill on the 8th May 2007. Crews from Fordingbridge and Ringwood extinguished the fire.
The burnt out refuse lorry at Godshill – 8th May 2007
A collision between a Volvo car and a Landrover on the A338 at Charlton All Saints on the 23rd June 2007 saw Fordingbridge
assisting Salisbury crews to extricate the male driver of the Volvo. Following his successful release from the vehicle he was taken
to hospital by the Air Ambulance helicopter.
A severe fire broke out in the early hours of the 12th July 2007 in the High Street at Downton. The Mace Shop was severely
damaged in the blaze which required the attendance of seven pumps before it was eventually brought under control. The fire
originally started in the flat above the shop but the entire property, including the roof, was affected. A Fordingbridge crew were at
the scene for several hours assisting Wiltshire firefighters.
On the 15th July 2007 a Fordingbridge crew had to assist the ambulance service by carrying an injured female down a steep flight
of stairs on a stretcher. The lady had hurt her head following a fall at her home in the grounds of Breamore House.
A deer had a lucky escape after it got its hindquarters wedged in a metal gate near the allotments in Alderholt Road, Sandleheath
on the 22nd July 2007. Fordingbridge firefighters used hydraulic spreading equipment to bend the bars on the gate which then
allowed the animal to escape to freedom.
An interesting exercise was held at the Rockbourne Monument on West Park Estate in Rockbourne on the 25th July 2007.
Fordingbridge crews simulated having to rescue two casualties from the top of the 100 foot tower. Although the drill was fairly
complex the climb up the narrow internal staircase of the tower in the pitch dark was possibly more challenging!! The stunning
views from the top though made all the puffing worthwhile.
Fordingbridge firefighters at Rockbourne Monument – 25th July 2007
Back Row L-R: Jim Hesford, Ross Freeman, John Mouland, Shaun Lincoln,
Steve White, Colin Dedman, Des Smith
Front Row L-R: Dave Stone, Mark West, Pete White, Lee Dorrington,
Dean Palmer, Dan Palmer, Paul Dorrington
Shortly after midnight on the 2nd August 2007 Fordingbridge were mobilised to a thatch roof fire at Cherry Tree Cottage, The
Common, Woodgreen. On arrival the crew discovered that about one third of the roof was already involved in fire. With the
assistance of Ringwood and Salisbury firefighters extreme efforts were quickly made to save the building by removing the burning
thatch. The blaze, which had been ignited by a spark from the chimney, was successfully contained to the roof area and the inside
of the building sustained no damage at all. A total of ten pumps from Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire attended.
Fordingbridge firefighters reflecting on their hard work in saving the
thatched roof of Cherry Tree Cottage in Woodgreen – 2nd August 2007
The Water Carrier from Fordingbridge was called to assist with water supplies at a large fire involving an Abattoir at Randall
Parker Food in Ragged Appleshaw near Andover on the 13th December 2007. The blaze, which broke out in the early hours,
required ten pumps and six water carriers to bring under control.
A thatched cottage was seriously damaged by fire on Boxing Day 2007. The roof of Bryants Cottage in Fryern Court Road, Burgate
caught alight just before nine ‘o’clock in the evening. A total of ten pumps from Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire fought the blaze
throughout the night but were unable to save the property.
Fordingbridge’s Water Tender Ladder (P960 JTR) pictured in front
of the burning roof of Bryants Cottage, Burgate – 26th December 2007
An elderly couple stranded inside their car in a swollen ford at Blissford Road, Blissford required the services of Fordingbridge
firefighters on the 15th January 2008. The fast moving water had started to enter the car, which had stopped in the middle of the
ford, when the Fordingbridge crew arrived. The car and its occupants were successfully pulled out of the floodwater and after
some emergency repairs to the vehicle the couple continued on their journey home.
A fire broke out in an office at the New Forest Nursing Home in Fritham on the 7th February 2008. The lunchtime blaze started in
an electrical fuse box and quickly spread to the ceiling area of the office. As smoke from the fire started to fill the premises a total
of 44 residents had to be evacuated by the staff and fire crews. Appliances from Fordingbridge, Lyndhurst, Totton and Romsey
successfully contained the fire to the ground floor area.
Fordingbridge were back in action the following evening, on the 8th February 2008, assisting Wiltshire firefighters with a thatch
roof fire at a property called ‘Tinkers’ in the village of Burcombe near Wilton. A total of ten pumps and an aerial appliance attended
the blaze which severely damaged the property.
Thatch roof fire at Burcombe & Fordingbridge firefighters
in action at the scene – 8th February 2008
A fire broke out in a two storey barn, containing around 300 hay bales, in the early evening on the 17th February 2008. The blaze at
East Mills Farm, Southampton Road, Fordingbridge was the result of a bonfire that had been lit nearby. It took the hard efforts of
Fordingbridge firefighters assisted by crews from Ringwood, Cranborne, Burley, Beaulieu and New Milton to successfully bring
the incident under control after several hours.
Barn fire at East Mills Farm, Fordingbridge – 17th February 2008
Firefighters wearing Breathing Apparatus worked hard to remove all the hay bales
from inside the barn and prevented the building being seriously damaged
On the 18th March 2008 Fordingbridge received a new Volvo ‘Emergency One’ Water Tender Ladder (HX03 WSF).
Fordingbridge’s new Water Tender Ladder (HX03 WSF) – 18th March 2008
Fordingbridge firefighters were the first on the scene of a road traffic accident in Timberley Lane, Redlynch on the 2nd June 2008.
A young female motorist had come off this country road and collided with a tree causing her to be trapped in her vehicle with a
nasty head injury. With the assistance of two appliances from Salisbury Fire Station the Fordingbridge crew successfully released
the casualty from the car and she was airlifted to hospital by helicopter.
Early the following morning, on the 3rd June 2008, another road traffic accident occurred on the A338 Road at Burgate Cross. A
car aqua-planed in heavy floodwater causing it to hit a wooden telegraph pole at the side of the road. The impact snapped the
pole in two bringing it down over the roof of the vehicle and trapping the driver inside. It took Fordingbridge and Ringwood
firefighters an hour to release the injured person before he could be taken to hospital to be treated for a broken arm. This was
quite a complex extrication due to the live electric wires in close proximity to the vehicle that had come down with the pole.
Road Traffic Accident A338 Road, Burgate Cross – 3rd June 2006
Today, 144 years since the introduction of a fire brigade in the town, Fordingbridge has a crew of seventeen retained (part-time)
firefighters who provide fire cover for the local area either from home or from their work place.
The crew is: Watch Manager Steve Coles
Crew Manager Colin Coley
Crew Manager Peter White
Crew Manager Ross Freeman
Firefighter Mark West
Firefighter Derek Jones
Firefighter Dean Palmer
Firefighter Dave Stone
Firefighter Des Smith
Firefighter Paul Dorrington
Firefighter Kevin Nicklen
Firefighter Jim Hesford
Firefighter Steve White
Firefighter Daniel Palmer
Firefighter Colin Dedman
Firefighter Lee Dorrington
Firefighter Shaun Lincoln
As well as covering Fordingbridge itself from the risk of fire the station is also responsible for the outlying villages of Sandleheath,
Rockbourne, Martin, Tidpit, Damerham, Whitsbury, Woodgreen, Frogham, Hyde, Hale, Godshill, Alderholt, Gorley, Harbridge,
Stuckton, Bickton and Breamore. Cover is also provided into the neighbouring counties of Dorset and Wiltshire.
All the calls attended vary in their own way but the one thing that always remains the same is the pride held by the Fordingbridge
crew in the service that they provide to their community.
The Fordingbridge ‘Old Timers’!!
On the 1st August 2007 the crew of Fordingbridge Fire Station achieved a fairly unique record by having a total of ten serving
personnel who had all provided, individually, at least twenty years service at Fordingbridge and were all recipients of the Fire
Brigade Long Service & Good Conduct Medal. On this date the combined number of years actually served at Fordingbridge, by the
ten firefighters, was a grand total of 263.
The long serving members of Fordingbridge Fire Station in August 2007
Back Row L-R: Dean Palmer, Mark West, Paul Dorrington, Des Smith, Dave Stone, Derek Jones
Front Row L-R: John Mouland, Colin Coley, Steve Coles, Pete White
In addition to this Firefighter Steve White also held the Fire Brigade Long Service & Good Conduct Medal. This was actually
awarded to Steve for his service at Redbridge Hill Fire Station prior to him joining Fordingbridge in 2003.
All eleven Fordingbridge firefighters who held the Long Service Medal in August 2007
Back Row L-R: Steve White, Des Smith, Dean Palmer, Mark West, Paul Dorrington, Dave Stone
Front Row L-R: Derek Jones, John Mouland, Steve Coles, Colin Coley, Pete White
Calling Out The Fordingbridge Firefighters.
Obviously there is no point in having a local fire brigade without a way of calling them out in times of need.
Throughout this book various methods of summonsing the brigade have been discussed briefly but it is worthwhile to take a
closer look at how, over the years, the Fordingbridge fire crews have been turned out in the event of fire.
During the early stages of the Fordingbridge brigade in the 19th century it would appear that people in need of assistance made
their way to the home of the Principal Fireman who, on hearing of their plight, would inform his fellow firefighters and organise the
manual pumps arrival at the incident.
Other brigades around this time used various other methods to call out the local firemen. In Romsey the Abbey bells were used
to inform the firemen of a call whilst several brigades, Hartley Wintney, Alresford and Bishops Waltham, used a bugle to summon
There is, however, no record of similar methods being used in Fordingbridge, and the use of a runner to inform the local firemen
appears to have been in use for many years. The use of maroons in Fordingbridge to call out the brigade was raised in the 1930’
s but no evidence exists to show this ever happened,
It was not until the Second World War that a more audible method was adopted in the town. A Klaxon siren above a shop in
Shaftesbury Street was sounded in the event of a fire. It was still, however, the responsibility of the Officer in Charge of the fire
station to take the emergency call and then operate the siren. For undertaking this task he was paid an annual fee of five pounds.
Following the end of the war and the subsequent formation of the Hampshire Fire Service it was not long until Fordingbridge
finally received a more organised method for being called out to fires.
By June 1948 the Fire Service had realised that difficulties were being encountered in certain areas where the reception of fire
calls was undertaken by local residents. Local people it seemed were, on the whole, simply no longer prepared to carry out the
In March 1949 the remote control systems available from the General Post Office were discussed and in places where the local
arrangements were no longer satisfactory the Chief Fire Officer was authorised to arrange with the G.P.O. for the installation of
proper call out systems to be carried out.
Shortly afterwards the ‘System D’ remote control system was put in place at Fordingbridge. The siren, which was now located
above Lloyds Bank, and the firemen’s individual house bells were sounded by utilising a normal G.P.O. exchange telephone line.
This was operated from the Headquarters Fire Control at North Hill House in Winchester. The running cost of the ‘System D’ was
far cheaper than other remote control arrangements in use elsewhere in Hampshire.
The siren became the main responsibility of Fireman Ron Baines, the Fordingbridge watchroom man. Once a week he had to
wind the clockwork time switch, which automatically silenced the siren at night, and also had to manually alter the clock during
the changes caused by British summer time.
As with all things the siren was not always reliable. On occasions it would not operate to signal a fire call due to technical
problems. During the winter time the rotating vanes on the siren would sometimes become frozen which again would prevent it
If, after a failure, the siren could not be operated manually by Fireman Baines he would have to hand crank an emergency
portable siren that was kept on the fire station.
Another minor problem that occurred sometimes was when Ringwood received a fire call. If the wind was blowing exactly the right
way then the Ringwood siren was clearly audible in Fordingbridge causing the firemen to race to the station for nothing.
One final comment has to be made on the original remote control system that was used at Fordingbridge. There are rumours
abound that some of the firemen discovered that by dialling the local telephone number 2388 and then whistling a continuous
note into the mouthpiece the siren and house bells would mysteriously operate!
Despite the introduction of more modern equipment to call out the brigade all details of the actual call still had to be written down
by hand at the fire station after being passed over the telephone by Control room staff at Winchester.
Eventually in the early 1960’s details started to be passed by a basic teleprinter system which delivered call out information
directly to the station. All messages relating to the incident were also passed back to Headquarters using the teleprinter from the
In the early 1970’s Fordingbridge firemen began to be called out to fires by a personal alerter. These replaced the ageing siren
and house bells and enabled a little more flexibility in the movements of local firemen. The alerter was carried in the pocket at all
times and simply bleeped, for about one minute, when automatically set off by Brigade Control in the event of a fire call.
The original bleepers were fairly large and required to be recharged every night. The bedside chargers provided a useful source
of illumination as the charging light glowed constantly.
These were replaced by alerters manufactured by Multi Tone and powered by replaceable batteries in the late 1970’s. These new
style bleepers were slightly more stylish than their predecessors and did not require to be constantly recharged.
Vast improvements in design and technology saw the alerters being replaced again in 1994 when Fordingbridge firemen
received new smaller pagers. However in 2001 the bleepers were once more replaced this time with an even smaller model
which vibrated and had a multifunctional LED display. With more enhanced and reliable paging systems becoming available the
alerters issued to Fordingbridge personnel were changed once more in June 2006. The new style pagers are slightly bigger than
the previous one and are capable of sounding different alert tones if required.
New style alerter - issued in June 2006
Modern technology allows for excellent communications today between fire appliances and the Hampshire Control Centre at
Eastleigh. Requests for assistance and messages giving information on fires and other incidents can be immediately passed
via a two way radio link.
This, however, has not always been the case. Back in the earlier days of the Hampshire Fire Service there were no radio facilities
available on fire engines. Therefore the only means of getting a message back to Headquarters or to summons further help was
by using a telephone. This was alright if the incident was fairly close to town but if it happened to be in the middle of the New
Forest or the suchlike considerable distances, probably on foot, would have been travelled in order to locate a telephone. Once a
telephone was located the appropriate message was passed to Fire Control by dialling 999 and stating to the exchange operator
“Fire flash - call Winchester 3291.”
In the mid 1980’s Fordingbridge became the only station in Hampshire to have a multi channel radio fitted on their Water Tender
(A33 OPX). This was to allow for easier communication between the control rooms of both Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Brigades
due to the number of times the station attended calls in both of these over the border brigades.