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Barnwood House Hospaital Fire Brigade
Fire Engine Photos
No: 17239   Contributor: Dr. B.A. Hutchinson   Year: 2009   Manufacturer: Bedford   Country: United Kingdom
Barnwood House Hospaital Fire Brigade

Barnwood House Hospaital Fire Brigade

I have been asked if I could find out any information relating to the above picture. It is of the fire crew from the Barnwood House mental hospital in Gloucester, taken perhaps in the 50's early 60's. (Do the tunics identify any specific period?) The Bedford NYR79? also must be a good start for those who know their Bedfords!

Picture added on 26 May 2009 at 22:04
add commentComments:
Clearly the appliances are ex AFS Green Goddess's the AFS was disbanded in 1968 and vehicles were not released until after that. The fire tunics were certainly in use until at least the late 1970s....infact London FB used a modified version much later (the lFB tunic had breast pockets) The cap badges are probably BFSA (British Fire Services Association) many private brigades were members and used their insignia

Added by Barrie Green on 26 May 2009.
Nice picture Doctor, NYR 79? All these 79s were issued in Bristol, Wiltshire, Swindon and Salisbury. Gloucester had 790 and 791 issued 1954 then to Wiltshire 1964. 791 went to Cork so this would seem to be 790.

Added by John Stott on 27 May 2009.
Does the registration NYR79? confirm that it is an AFS Goddess? Knowing nothing about Bedfords, can someone give a brief rundown of how Bedford appliance production was allocated between AFS and general use with the U.K. Brigades?

Added by Dr. B.A. Hutchinson on 27 May 2009.
Definatly green goddess'es Barry There was plenty of Bedfords built in the 1950s for 'civvie' fire brigades but not many could be mistaken for EP/SPs

Added by Barrie Green on 27 May 2009.
Yes NYR were AFS issue. At any time county brigades could borrow or the Home Office allocate surplus machines from the fleet. How these ended up at the hospital is a mystery as my records have gaps in service. However, it may be a loan from the local brigade took place on a conditional agreement. Local knowledge is usually the best source in cases like this, so any offers?

Added by John Stott on 28 May 2009.
Information I found states that Barnwood House mental hospital(1860-1968) was in use until 1968,the AFS of course actually being disbanded this same year.It therefore seems very strange to see 2 Bedford(green goddess)EP's at a private hospital because they were not released by the Home Office like Barry Green said until after the hospital would have been closed.
May I also just say that this may have been an AFS unit that might have been allocated to the hospital and thats maybe why they have these two Bedfords for use.In many cases AFS fire stations would have been sited at many various locations-maybe a local park building,council stores,school outbuilding,local brigade station,or actually a hospital.
I've actually found nothing on the Barnwood House Mental Hospital Fire Brigade,and so feel the only way is to get local historical data/book,etc.This may mension when a brigade was formed,and when it might have been disbanded,maybe 1968.

Added by Pete Matten on 28 May 2009.
This is from the ogiginator of the request to Barry Hutchinson.
Many thanks to everyone for their comments which have certainly helped.
An update which might clarify the picture a bit.
Firstly, because of our enquiries round the area, a notebook has come to light detailing the activities of the Hospital fire brigade during the war. From this we have been able to establish that the team used the services of the County Fire brigade for training. We now think that this picture of the hospital crew is not taken at the Hospital but round the corner at the nearby County Fire Station. This would fit in with the engines being Bedfords, the registration and possible timing. It looks like the picture is recording the awarding of a trophy. We do have an earlier picture, which I will post on this site, which shows the crew in front of their engine on which the words 'Trustees' and 'House' can be seen. We now know that this was a Dennis, chassis number T.A.8, possibly 1937, Engine 94603 and pump D(2?)1235. We will now dig into the notebook to see what else of interest is there.
Again many thanks

Added by Richard Auckland on 28 May 2009.
Richard, Trustees would indicate a hospital machine donated by the Great and the Good so to speak. Many such brigades existed at asylums staffed by volunteers who worked on site. As for the AFS covering a hospital alone, doubtful. I would suspect Petes suggestion of a Civil Defence Depot being based there, or near, as most likely. Usually, apart from written records,the only way to find these things out is sombody with actual knowledge from the day, good luck!

Added by John Stott on 29 May 2009.
I have been told that there WAS an AFS station at Barnwood,but unfortunately my friend has no knowledge of the hospital brigade.

Added by Bob on 30 May 2009.
Thanks Bob, the mystery deepens then!

Added by John Stott on 31 May 2009.
In view of some of the comments,i would suggest that either the hospital crew were photographed in front of the AFS machines at the AFS station,or at some time this has mistakenly been taken for the hospital crew with their own appliances.
It would be nice to get this mystery resolved.

Added by Bob on 31 May 2009.
I agree Bob, could be the hospital crew won a drill competition and the picture was taken at an AFS depot. There is no record that I can find to say NYR 790 served anywhere else.

Added by John Stott on 01 June 2009.
I still believe that at least the Station Officer's cap badge is the BFSA badge and also wearing medals on the 'wrong' side which again suggests 'industrial' to me !!!

Added by Barrie Green on 01 June 2009.
I would agree Barrie, the older man in the back row is wearing an AFS battldress jacket, the subbie has an undress jacket which suggests to me this is in the sixties. Perhaps we will never know!

Added by John Stott on 01 June 2009.
Many thanks for all your comments both for this and also for picture #17286.
I will now do some more ferreting and see if I can come up with something definitive. Watch this space!

Added by Richard Auckland on 01 June 2009.
I think if you compare this and the other photo sent in (picture #17286) the personnel here and in the other appear to be the same personnel.In other words the firemen in the other photo in front of their Fordson HU shows clearly the Barnwood House brigade,where as this photo for some reason shows them-probably around about the same time(posible late 50's/early 60's)at the local AFS quarters which we now know existed.
This is a puzzle that will not beat us,the info is somewhere and I'm sure somehow we'll find it.

Added by Pete Matten on 01 June 2009.
An update, I am in conversation with the son of one of the men in this picture and he has his father's logbook of the fire team's activities.
We currently think this picture is of the crew in the NFS station round the corner at Barnwood in front of the Gloucester NFS' Dennis (confirmed by registration number NYR 790)
The Logbook talks of a "Dennis Pump" which was pulled behind a van. We, the uninitiated, now realise that the hospital never had a Dennis Fire engine. I have been told that they did have a "Salser" or "Saltser" and could be another name for a Fordson HU. The dates are a bit of a mystery as this 'Salser' appears to have been purchased in 1937 and comments posted indicate that the Fordson was after that time.
I can also confirm they were AFS and we think my friend still has his father's cap badge.
hopefully more to follow but due to holidays it may be a few weeks hence.
Thanks to all for their input, this thread has been most fascinating to follow

Added by Richard Auckland on 03 June 2009.
The Dennis pump is clearly a Trailer Pump, there were thousands produced for WW2...the other name mentioned will be a Sulzer Pump....this was a large pump driven by its own petrol engine and mounted on the back of a Heavy Unit Probably the Fordson in the other photograph

Added by Barrie Green on 04 June 2009.
In 1948 the City of Gloucester Fire Brigade had two stations, Bearlands and Barnwood Road in Barnwood.
In 1956 they opened a new station on Eastern Avenue and closed both the Bearlands and Barnwood stations.
Gloucester had two Bedford EPs allocated to them in 1954, NYR 790 and NYR 793 and these are almost certainly the two seen in the background of the photograph.
It is possible that when the new station was opened in 1956 that Gloucester kept the Barnwood station open purely as an AFS station.
I would suggest that the photograph was taken outside the Barnwood station sometime between 1954 and no later than 1964 when both the two Bedford EPs were transferred from Gloucester to Wiltshire AFS.
It could be that the firemen at Barnwood House Hospital were also members of the Gloucester AFS and had won a trophy in an AFS competition and that was the reason for the photograph being taken.

Added by Dusty on 14 July 2009.
Thanks Dusty, thats a well thought out piece!

Added by John Stott on 14 July 2009.
I worked at the nearby Coney Hill mental hospital in Gloucester for a number of years, although when I went there in 1986 Barnwood House, which was a private hospital, had long since closed. There is the Barnwood Trust still in existence, located in Gloucester, which administers the charitable trust left over from the hospital, and they have records. There is also a local man by the name of Ian Hollinsbee who used to teach at the Coney Hill School of Nursing who is a local mental health historian. Unfortunately I don't have contact details for him. However, I must say that I suspect that this photo was of the local AFS contingent, based on Barnwood Road, just around the corner from the hospital.Barnwood House was a small hospital, which wouldn't have warranted a private brigade with two major pumping appliances.
Andy Hughes

Added by Andy Hughes on 06 January 2010.
It would also surprise me if the hospital had its own fire fighting unit.
I am currently researching the history of the old Hospital as there appears to be an awful lot of anomalies in what I discovered so far. I worked at Coney Hill and Horton Road but find Barnwood House much more interesting.

Added by Gordon on 21 April 2010.
As a past member of the Auxiliry Fire and Rescue Service and the Wholetime brigade in Northern Ireland, I can confirm that the uniforms and EP's are AFS issue. The AFS was administered by the Home Office with all vehicles and equipment, of which the EP was a small part, were government owned and came under the direct control of The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The AFS came under the umbrella of the Civil Defense in the UK but would have been attached to a wholetime brigade for training, operational and admistration purposes. The the old Northern Ireland Fire Authority assumed the responsibility for a combined Auxiliary Fire and Rescue Service (AFRS) which was unique in the Civil Defense. The uniforms shown in the picture were standard Fire Service issue for Firemen, Leading Firemen and Section Leaders and the cap badge contained the letters AFS highlighted in red. Although the AFS had their own officer rank structure, a station officer would have been appointed from a wholetime county brigade with AFS responsibilities. The building which housed the appliances may have been rented from the hospital but there is no way the government would have approved an AFS Station solely for a hospital. Most if not all AFS Sections would have been attached to the local fire station. The AFS was after all a voluntary service. To avoid confusion the rank structure in the post war AFS until it was disbanded was, Fireman, Leading Fireman, Section Leader, Company Officer, etc.

William Coyle

Added by William Coyle on 05 June 2010.
Cant agree with everything you have said William, I too was in the AFS, I was stationed in Manchester and we used the Manchester cap badge. The rank structure was identical to the whole time service with sub officers and one (in Manchester) Aux Station Officer who was the highest rank in the Brigade of Auxiliary Fire Brigade officers. The rank system came into being following de-nationalization in 1948, Scottish brigades retained the old ranks for a few years into the 1950s before coming in line with the English and Welsh model structure
The AFS came under the Home Office, the 'Office of The Deputy Prime Minister' only came into being in the late 1990s....John Prescott being its first incumbent.
Most uk stations had a garage to accommodate AFS vehicles, often separate from the original station building, and this was paid for by a grant from the Home Office.
I agree that it was unlikely for a AFS unit to be attached to a hospital.

Added by Barrie Green on 05 June 2010.
Hello Barry,

Thank you for your reply and comments. I should have course clarified that I was referring to the Civil Defense - AFS as it was set up and operated in Northern Ireland. The Civil Defense was already in operation under the Civil Defense Act of 1948, reconstituting it from the war years, so it was felt that the auxiliary fire service would be incorporated within the Civil Defense.

The Civil Defense discharged its duties in Northern Ireland under responsibilities which were defined in the Civil Defense (NI) Act 1950. The Northern Ireland Fire Authority undertook the recruiting and training of the newly formed Auxiliary Fire Service and Rescue Service, which was an arm of the UK Civil Defense.

Unlike the rest of England, Scotland and Wales, in Northern Ireland the rank structure within the Northern Ireland Fire Authority remained the same as the Second World War until 1973 when it came into line with the rest of the United Kingdom Fire Service.

Northern Ireland Fire Authority - AFRS Rank Structure

Fire Force Commander
Divisional Officer
Assistant Divisional Officer
Wholetime Company Officer & Auxiliary Company Officer
Section Leader
Leading Fireman
Leading Rescueman

In Northern Ireland, both the AFS and Rescue Service wore badges on the sleeves of their tunics emblazoned with FR. (Fire and Rescue). We continued to use the AFS Badge until 1965 when we were issued with NIFA cap badges.

The AFRS Station building was set in the grounds of the local football club and the building was rented from the then Londonderry Corporation. It housed the AFS and Rescue Sections until both were moved to the new N.I.F.A. Northland Road Western Divisional Headquarters station. The Northern Ireland Auxiliary Fire and Rescue Service were officially disbanded on 28 March 1968.
The name SPP was changed to Emergency Pump (EP) by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister who was responsible for all Mobile Fire Column equipment and special appliances in the UK.

For the record, the Green Goddess was never a military fire engine. They have always been owned by the Home Office, managed by the Office of The Deputy Prime Minister and stored at various locations throughout the UK were they are maintained by TNT Truckcare in a constant state of readiness. The Emergency Pumps were used during the fire fighters strike of 1977 and more recently during the strikes of 2003.

Some EP’s and other specialist equipment were sold off, some were mothballed in Home Office depots, and a relative few were bought by local authority brigades. About 800 Green Goddess pumps remain available in Home Office stores ready for use in times of crisis and are manned by military personnel, leading to the misconception that they are military fire engines.

Although most of these vehicles were stored in depots, a number of vehicles were deployed to fire stations for the training of Auxiliary Fire Service crews and employed as backup equipment on routine fire operations. All Auxiliary Fire Service appliances were painted a dark green to distinguish them from the red fire appliances under the control of the local authority fire brigades. A book has been published about the Auxiliary Fire Service called “The Green Machine” written by Barry Hollis and John Thompson. The book contains history of the AFS appliances and equipment and most allocations during the AFS years 1952 - 1968.


William Coyle

Added by William Coyle on 06 June 2010.
Hello, I am not sure this photo was taken at Barnwood House, I think more likeley at Gloucester fire station AFS bays (built 1959). There was an AFS contingent based at the hospital WW2, which was just up the road from the Gloucester City Barnwood FS. The chap in the front row, 2nd from left is still alive and well, I was speaking with him today !

Added by Michael Williams on 02 October 2010.
Cheshire had at least one AFS Stn O . He was at Bebington, a local butcher and owned the station which he leased to the Home Office. Post 1968 the building became a repair garage. There was an AFS station in Bebington before there was a CCFB one fire cover being provided by Lever Bros at Port Sunlight.

Added by Neal Glover on 02 October 2010.
St.Helens had two AFS station Officers when I joined back in the late 60's, The AFS veichles were in a large garage at the rear of the drill ground at the HQ station still to this day called the AFS garage, A Land Rover was also at the old Sub station bihind the town hall along with a dispatch bike.

Added by Dave Price on 03 October 2010.
Manchester had one Station Officer, the main AFS station was next to the old Moss Side fire station with a large garage complex at the rear for the 'specials' Pumps were allocated to most of the sub stations and turned out with the regs on drill nights. When you completed basic training at Moss Side you were issued a 'Cromwell' lid and allocated a I lived just round the corner from Moss Side....thats where I remained but was able to get a wealth of hands on experience which benefited me throughout my service life and still does today!

Added by Barrie Green on 03 October 2010.
I know it is some years since there was debate about NYR 790 and Barnwood House Hospital, but I may be able to fill in a few gaps for those still interested.

The appliance was still at Gloucester in 1967, because I took a photo of it in the Gloucester Carnival procession in August 1967. As a boy I can remember the Barnwood fire station being opposite the hospital, and it survived at least until the late 1990s, I think as a depot for a soft drink company.

As for NYR 790 going to Wiltshire, was this for storage? I recall they were brought back into service at least once when there was strike action across the country.

As for the hospital, one of its most noted patients was the poet and composer, Ivor Gurney.
Finally, there was at least one Green Goddess based at Eastern Avenue for a time after that station opened.

Added by Alan O. Watkins on 13 January 2018.
Alan, thank you for taking the time to add more to the story of this photograph. When I posted it I never dreamt that it would arose so much interest and comment.

Added by Dr. B.A. Hutchinson on 16 January 2018.
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