News: The modern name of Kent is derived from the Brythonic word kantos meaning "rim" or "border", or possibly from a homonymous word kanto "horn, hook"
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Topic Summary

Posted by: scoop
« on: January 02, 2014, 13:40:44 »

Just a thought, has the picture been flipped left-right as he appears to be wearing medals on the wrong side?  Did the engine have makers plates on both sides?  Might help with location.
Posted by: afsrochester
« on: January 02, 2014, 11:59:23 »

Unless you know for certain, don't assume it's a 'Regular' fire brigade, it could equally be a works brigade of some sort. 

Edit: What's the subjects name?

Yes scoop, it could possibly be a works brigade as well. Thanks for pointing that out.

As to the name of the subject, that I do not know. Please see John38's initial post.
Posted by: scoop
« on: January 02, 2014, 11:16:47 »

Unless you know for certain, don't assume it's a 'Regular' fire brigade, it could equally be a works brigade of some sort. 

Edit: What's the subjects name?
Posted by: afsrochester
« on: January 02, 2014, 09:38:35 »

Hi John38 :)

The Steamer is a very early pattern Merryweather, with vertical cylinders. There was only one Brigade in Kent that had this model and that was Ashford.

Turning attention to the tunic worn next.

Assuming the photograph was taken before 1919, it would be a standard pattern Melton tunic from one of the following. The National Fire Brigades Union, standard Volunteer Pattern or the individual brigade's own.

All were more or less identical apart from the buttons. The NFBU's buttons were quite ornate and had the inscription "National Fire Brigades Union" on them. The standard Volunteer Pattern was of crossed axes under a brass helmet, individual brigades would vary. Rochester Volunteer Fire Brigade had had their own buttons made depicting the City Crest and brigade name. It did rather depend on what funds were allocated to the brigades. Many of the volunteer brigades opted for the cheapest- the standard pattern and because they were readily available. After 1919, the NFBU became the NFBA (Association). Their brass buttons were of crossed axes and helmet inside an 8 point star with 2 axes criss-crossing underneath.

The brass helmet could be a standard pattern Merryweather or a Shand Mason. The only way to tell is by a small  manufacturer's name plate on the underside of the rear skirt, most of which were made by Merryweather. Of course, if the brigade had its own badge, that would be on the front, but the photograph, sadly, is not clear enough to make identification possible. Rochester's were a standard Merryweather Pattern with the brigades badge of the city crest.

The Gentleman is more than likely an officer, possibly a Captain/Chief Officer or similar rank as he is wearing "T" pieces (rank markings) on his shoulders, but all pre-WW2 brigades were different (one of the reason for nationalisation in August 1941), so it is possible (although I think it unlikely) that he could be just an ordinary fireman. Chatham Fire Brigade's men all had T pieces on their tunics. A Merryweather catalogue of the period shows them as rank markings but a few brigades used them as extra protection for the shoulders, or just to make their unforms more ornate!! If this were the case, rank markings, usually made of gold braid or similar, were worn on the sleeves (like naval officers), or even in addition to the above!!!

Just a little more information about the tunic. Melton is a heavy woollen cloth that smoulders rather than burns, (trousers were of the same), and the firemen relied on the water from the hoses to give them even better protection. It went out of service after nearly 120 years in the late 1980's, along with personal issue axes, belts and belt lines. Hose spanners disappeared in 1941 when the NFS was founded.

Other items of the uniform include a brass buckled leather belt, axe and pouch, (different makes available, some were custom made) a belt line, for tying off branches on the hose, or for linking to another man say, when if in a search of a building, a hose spanner, to attach the branches to the hose, and could also be used to couple hard suction hose together when lifting from open water, although it was normal to have larger spanners/wrenchers carried on the steamer for this purpose, and leather boots with leather soles using copper nails to attach them as they did not create sparks on stone or metal surfaces.

He also appears to be wearing 2 medals and a couple of badges. One could be NFBU long service award, the other could be a town medal, a bravery award from the Society from the Protection of Life from Fire, it could even be naval medal, as many firemen from this era and beyond were ex-naval men, chosen because of their knowledge of pumps, because of them used to working at heights and working in harsh conditions and being used to discipline. The badges could be for first aid, or other awards. 

It is possible that all the metal work on the tunic could be made from Silver or White Metal, again subject to finances available.

Hope this helps.

My thanks to John Meakins for information about the Steamer.
Posted by: John38
« on: December 30, 2013, 10:47:19 »

Thanks, Ann
Posted by: ann
« on: December 30, 2013, 10:43:46 »

Great photo, hope someone can you help you with identification.
Posted by: John38
« on: December 29, 2013, 20:49:28 »

A friend of mine showed me this photograph. The old chap is her great grandfather. She doesn't know where the photo was taken, but as her family come from Kent there is a good chance that it was taken in Kent.

Any information concerning the equipment/uniform/location etc. would be greatly appreciated
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