RCS Motor Club

The Search

In winter 98-99 I painted the wheels of Jez, and was considering how we should go about reconditioning the bonnet. When looking over our limited collection of period photos of N Types I found we had a postcard of Soho fire station. This showed that the wheels should in fact have small triangles (backed up by some pictures of Jez in college in 1957). And that there should be coach lining on the bonnet too. It also suggested that the bonnet should not be black (as it is currently) or cyanide blue (as people had told me it should be) but possibly should have been red.

So the wheels were wrong, the bonnet was wrong, and the photos suggested that the rest of the bodywork was wrong too. The main box should have additional lining and the fire station number. The chassis rail should probably have the LFB fire engine number.

The only way to know for certain would be to have a photo of Jez.

Looking through the archives Crosfield said Jez had been LFB “fire engine number 8”. This was impossible, but it was possible that it was fire station number 8. This was Kensington (just down the road from college) so I visited the station and the local library. There was a 1921 photo of the station with two Leyland appliances. But Jez would have been there when she left (to still have the 8 at Crosfield) so I assumed that was wrong.

The photo there was copied at the London Metropolitan Archives. I visited there and again there were quite a few photos. However none of Jez, but quite a few others. They also had the LFB records but they were rather limited and referred to LFB fire engine numbers and not registration or chassis number.

It became evident that this would be a rather long hunt and may require a great deal of searching. I decided all the information needed to be gathered so that we would be able to narrow down even when we didn’t find details specifically of Jez (plus there are another 3 LFB N types to find the history of).

I found a list of LFB station numbers in a 1940 book. From earlier photos the station numbers looked to have stayed very similar but a few were moved around when new stations were opened and many stations had closed when they got rid of most of the steamers. I would imagine a fair number of the stations were too small for the motor appliances, and the motor appliances could travel further. For example Gt. Marlboro Street had its number transferred to Soho and Gt. Marlboro Street was closed.

In summer 2000 we were given a photo of Gt. Marlboro Street station. This was a very detailed photo of LP8384; an N-Type built to the same specification as Jez.

I went to look at the Dennis archives. There were only about 30 N types made with Sankey wheels delivered to London.

I have marked the LFB districts of 1940 on an AtoZ folding map. It has the current fire stations marked on it, but we need to find out about earlier stations and mark them on. We can then mark on where the Sankey wheels N types went to see if there is any correlation. Dot Cotton from Paddington has helped us out by supplying uswith further information on LFB stations.

Further things to do:

Photograph all the fire stations in London. We have some photos that we have no idea which station they are. We should be able to correlate the architecture (I have managed this on a couple of stations already).

Further leads to chase up:

Hulton Getty. A photo archive. If their 18 million photos are as easily searchable as their web site then it should be easy. There were many useful photos in the 200,000 online

LFB Library. The LFB have a library. It is meant to have a photo collection. It will be well worth searching if it exists.

Surrey History Centre. Has the Dennis records. It would be good to finish the master table of N Types so we can tie up where they all went and see if there is a pattern.

London Metropolitan Archives. It would be good to complete the accident register as far as 1932.

New Information (May 2003)

We attended Kew Bridge Steam Museum Fire Engine day (as in most years), and CBY 1 was had been bought along by Dot Cotton. CBY 1 had a lamp and standpipe period with LP8389. Being items that may be removed from the fire engine they were stamped with the station number and engraved with LFB. This seemed very sensible as it was possible these items could be used out of the district and in correlation with other appliances.

When thinking about this on return to the garage I considered that the sidelights had the same LCC engravings. I then remembered that there was a number on the bottom of the sidelamps, that I considered to be a model number as they matched. I then looked at the original headlamps, and they were also both stamped 28P. So it appears this is not a model number. So it seems likely that it either means Station 28 Pump, which seems unlikely as station 28 had a Leyland Pump, and stamping a station number would be silly as the appliance could move stations.

So it would seem very likely that the number is actually Appliance 28P. This is normal nomenclature, where P is for pump. Also from the LFB accident register one can see that all the Pumps fell in the range appliance number 10-100.

The accident register also has an accident recorded for Pump 28, on the 30/12/1920, and records it as being based at station 66 which is Clerkenwell.

From here we need to find backing for this hypothesis, ideally a photo. The LFB Library is believed to have many photos, so if we could find a 1920 photo of Clerkenwell, with the appliances this would (dis)prove this. We could also attempt to look at LFB appliances of a similar age to see if their lamps are stamped. If we could prove if for one of these, it would be good backing for the hypothesis.

New Information 2 (14th June 2003)

Went to the London Archives today and proved that hypothesis to be a load of rubbish….

Whilst some of our intrepid volunteers were entering the data for the accident register (now master lfb knowledge spreadsheet) the others were set with the task of looking through photographs and other archive material. When requesting the LFB committee minutes and finding they wern’t quite as described Ed looked at the paper listings of the archive material. There was a file of records from 1915-1916 for the purchase of fire engines. This turned out to be all the paperwork concerned with the purchase of 10 pumps and 17 escapes that formed the batch Jez was delivered with. The front cover had the list correlating Registration Numbers with Appliance Numbers. Jez was down as Pump 66, which was at station 50 (Pagenats Wharf). So we will hopefully visit the LFB Library soon and attempt to find a photo. INterpolation of photographic information, dennis records and the accident register also gives the pump number of 66 for LP8389.

So we now want to fully complete the story of the situation with Jez being ordered, how she looked, what equipment she carried etc.

I went to the Southwark Local Studies Library and chatted with the staff. They had no pictures of Pageants Wharf :-(. Given that this was only a sub station, it probably wasn’t as photogenic as a station with multiple appliances. They hold the local newspapers too, but said that photos of fires were extremely rare until journalists could get telephone calls and drive around in their own cars. This may be worth persuing when we have a full list of fires attended.

So I went back to the London Metropolitan Archives. Wee need to give 48 hours notice to look at the fire logs. And two people need to attend to handle them.

Reference Number Year
LCC/FB/GEN/8/79-80 1916
LCC/FB/GEN/8/81-82 1917
LCC/FB/GEN/8/83-84 1918
LCC/FB/GEN/8/85-86 1919
LCC/FB/GEN/8/87-88 1920
LCC/FB/GEN/8/89-91 1921
LCC/FB/GEN/8/92-93 1922
LCC/FB/GEN/8/94-95 1923
LCC/FB/GEN/8/96-97 1924
LCC/FB/GEN/8/98-99 1925
LCC/FB/GEN/8/100-101 1926
LCC/FB/GEN/8/102-103 1927
LCC/FB/GEN/8/104-106 1928
LCC/FB/GEN/8/107-109 1929
LCC/FB/GEN/8/110-112 1930
LCC/FB/GEN/8/113-115 1931
LCC/FB/GEN/8/116-118 1932
Appliance Number required to Fully Equip Recieved On Order Balance Proposal to Order
Motor Pump 63 18 16 29 10
Motor Escape Van 64 13 13 40 17
Motor Turntable Ladders 25 3 2 18 1500 Pounds available for other appliances
Motor Lorries 9 1 1 7
Motor Canteen 1 1
Motor Car 2 2

A letter from Dennis Bros. (17th february 1916) confirms that all 19 pumps on order will be fitted with Bosch waterproof magnetos and secondary ignition.

A letter from Dennis Bros. (17th february 1916) confirms that all 19 pumps on order will be fitted with Bosch waterproof magnetos and secondary ignition.

There is a further letter from LFB to Dennis asking for improvements to the design. These include fitting a flip top rather than screw radiator cap, to fit longer rear leaf springs (one assumes this is to reduce the tendency to invert the shackles), to place the speedo and rev counter higher so they are more easily seen, a redesign of the rear brakes so they wouldn’t release when weight was removed from the appliance, and to reduce the track length if possible….. Hopefully we will be able to get a copy of this at some point. They also specify that black lamps and towing hooks should be fitted and that the horn should be mounted higher up the dash.

There is a lot of correspondence between LFB, dennis and speedo/rev counter makers. LFB state they are happy with the Cowey “A2” Speedo, the Watford 306 speedo and the Watford 318 rev counter. The final decision was left to Dennis, who must have chosen to use the pair of Watford items. (There is still nothing telling us how the rev counter was connected up)

Throughout March and April 1916 there were a lot of letter written between Dennis and LFB about the footboard covering. The war department had been restricting the use of diamond pattern aluminium. LFb were very disappointed that a few appliances had been delivered with vinyl footboards, but supply resumed after these.

There was also a lot of discussion about tyres. LFB wanted Torkington tyres fitted to their pumps as they were wider, and they considered them to be more suited to the higher loads taken by the pumps tyres.

Hudson lamps were chosen as correct to be fitted.

Contact Us!


Email: jez@imperial.ac.uk
Write: RCS Motor Club c/o Student Activities Centre, Imperial College Union, Beit Quad, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2BB
Tel: +44 (0)20 759 48085 Not always attended
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jezebel.dennis

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