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Austin Turntable ladder
Fire Engine Photos
No: 1375   Contributor: Wayne Davies   Year: 2006   Manufacturer: Austin   Country: United Kingdom
Austin Turntable ladder

A 1943 Austin K 6 Turntable ladder, from the NFS. Seen here at the Emergency services Day at RAF Hullavington in Wiltshire
Picture added on 26 September 2006
add commentComments:
This model has a Merryweather 60-ft ladder and was the backbone of the NFS in WW2. The 100-ft Merryweather ladder of the time was powered from vehicle p.t.o. (except for hand-operated 'plumbing'), but this one I believe was all-manual. Can anyone confirm this?

Added by Neil Bennett on 25 September 2007.
Yes the 60ft Merryweather was total manually operated (according to 1944 Manual Of Firemanship Part 2) as it was designed to be operated by ordinary appliance crews who may not nessesarily qualified operators. It was also unable to rotate in a complete circle as clearance between the ladder heel & ground was only 12 inchs leaving a 150 degree arc at the rear of the appliance where the ladder couldn't be used

Added by Bryan Sweeney on 25 September 2007.
Thank you, Bryan. What exactly was the 1944 Manual of Firemanship? - Published by Merryweather, or NFS etc? You probably know that a 4 mm: 1 ft model kit of the vehicle shown is available from 'Langley Models'. Regards, Neil

Added by Neil Bennett on 26 September 2007.
Very nice picture of a classic 1943 Austin/Merryweather 60'Turntable Ladder.After the war, my ex-brigade operated two of these, one though was written off due to an accident, whilst the other remained in Service up until 1970 with the West Sussex F.B. Both are now still around and attend shows, and rallies.

Added by Pete Matten on 27 September 2007.
The Manuals Of Firemanship were a Government publication. It came in a series of Parts (Books) & was, as far as I'm aware, replaced in the 1990's by the Fire Service Manuals series of books. Is this the only fire appliance they produce?

Added by Bryan Sweeney on 27 September 2007.
Thanks for information, Bryan. Langley Models (; 0870 0660416) also do a Leyland 1980s fire engine and maybe some others in their vast range of 1/76 kits. 'Highway Models' did a kit of a 1950s AEC Merryweather pump escape, believed to be modelled on vehicle owned by Paul Pearson. If you were referring to Merryweather co, of course they've done dozens of designs over the centuries, including wartime 100ft turntable ladders on bus chassis. Their last design, circa 1984, was the XRL30, some of which were sold before their sale and development ended and they withdrew from vehicle-mounted fire equipment.

Added by Neil Bennett on 28 September 2007.
Now then if the one I posted a picture of could only look like that, what a credit to her owner.


Added by Andrew Wright on 02 October 2007.
This is "Martha" and she belongs to my family. We have owned her since 1975, when we purchased her in a derelict condition from Passey & Sons scrap yard in Benson Oxfordshire. She served with Somerset Fire Brigade, based in Bridgwater and latterly in Taunton. Retired with a serious engine fault in 1962 and scrapped in 1965. Bought for £200 in 1975 by Dad - and everyone thought he was mad! little did the dissenters know that 33 years later she would be very much loved by three generations of Wannells and by the Wootton Bassett community generally. We attend lots of fetes and steam rallies, and we have raised over £50, 000 for the Fire Service National Benevolent Fund.

Added by Heather Wannell on 22 April 2008.
Nice to see the old machines again! There was one on the run at Castleford Fire Station, West Riding, when I transferred there in 1964. I saw it years later at the Fire Show at Tees-side Airport, immaculate in West Riding livery. Any photos of it around? i don't have the number, unfortunately, but I seem to remember that the only 'hand-operated' part was training! Elevation, extension, etc, was mechanical....or is my memory failing me after 44 years?

Added by John Stead on 24 November 2008.
Makes you think, though - this was not a purpose-built Fire Engine; it was built on a commercial lorry (truck) chassis, under war-time contingencies and yet continued successfully in service for many years after.

'Nuff said.

Regards, from Canada,

Added by Pat Rivers-Bowerman on 25 November 2008.
These 60ft TLs were built to be hand operated but a power conversion kit became available later, not all were converted and yes the 'training' (ie the rotating) was manual on all appliances.
Cheshire FB had one at Crewe and Rowntrees Works Brigade also had one at York.

Added by Barrie Green on 25 November 2008.
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