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Fire Engines Photos

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Elgin Fire Station Grampian 1953
Fire Engine Photos
No: 4735   Contributor: Andy Bain   Year: 1953   Manufacturers: Commer, Dennis, Fordson   Country: United Kingdom
Elgin Fire Station Grampian 1953

Opened in June 1953 shut in February 2001
Picture added on 25 November 2007
add commentComments:
Sorry I should have said this was in Haugh Road, Elgin, Scotland; they knocked it down and it's part of a Tesco Supermarket carpark now!

Added by Andy on 26 November 2007.
The middle appliance HSA 333 Which is a Commer is being preserved by a guy in Edinburgh who also owns HSA 334. Thanks to Archie McKinnon for this information. Further pictures of both can be found on the Fire Vehicle Preservation Group Scotland Website -

Added by Andy on 23 May 2008.
Anyone got details, on the other 2 Engines?

Especially, the one on the right, with the front-mounted pump; and possibly a Wheeled Escape - war-time construction, maybe ?


Added by Pat_R-B on 24 May 2008.
Pat, as you might of guessed the machine on the far left is a Dennis (Light Four). The machine on the right is war time build Fordson, but there are people who really know about this type of appliance and I am sure will be able to fill in all the details.

Best wishes,


Added by Barry on 24 May 2008.
Andy, whatever the economics at the time, 3 very distinctive-looking Fire Engines. A joy to view, in these days of mass-produced, multi-national, homogeniety - speaking of looks only, mind.....

Knowledgable readers, Thanks Barry; any chance of the Fordson, on the right, having a Turntable Ladder, especially with the pump and hose-reel being up forward, leaving the rear clear?


Added by Pat_R-B on 24 May 2008.
Pat_R-B, it is more likely to be a wheeled escape on the back.

Added by Jake Symmonds on 24 May 2008.
I'm guessing that the Dennis light four pump is GXN 782 of 1943 vintage, if so its still around and under restoration by a guy in Aberdeenshire.

Added by Rick Loudon on 24 May 2008.
The Fordson 7V Heavy Unit was built during the early 1940's to Home Office
specification to meet the war need.This photo shows the appliance carrying
a standard 50'wheeled escape, but many would carry just a standard ladder.
With the re-organisation of brigades in 1948, many brigades would alter the
appliances to their own needs.The standard American Barton front mounted pump
was fitted to this appliance-many were not, so they would tow a trailor pump.
These appliances when built were built as heavy pumping units, they were not
intended for any other purpose, the Austin K4 from the war period was built to
Home Office specifications to carry a 60ft Merryweather turntable ladder with
a total of fifty being manufactured for the war effort.

Added by Pete Matten on 24 May 2008.

Thanks, yes the Dennis is GXN782, I've just checked the high res scan that I have. My family were very much part of the Fire Service in Elgin with My Dad Great Grandfather starting it. My Grandfather was (I believe) the Longest Serving Retained Fire Fighter with 42 years under his belt, he was also awarded the BEM. When my father joined in 1971 The Commer in the Middle was still in service...

Added by Andy on 25 May 2008.
Pat / Andy,
GXN 782 is still in the throes of a long running restoration. I'm busy with a 50ft steel wheeled escape and re-covering the canvas roof at the moment. Now rumming but not ready to rally yet. (60ft escape was the original spec. but not too common. I have photos of Elgin a couple of months before closure and also factory photos of the Light 4.
BRgds Peter McCombie

Added by Peter McCombie on 26 May 2008.

Are you any relation to Tony McCombie that used to serve in Elgin? McCombie is not a very common name...


Added by Andy on 26 May 2008.
I didn't realise that GXN 782 was still in the land of the living - good luck with the restoration.
The mention of the 60' escape is especially interesting, and presumably the vehicle had been ordered by Elgin pre-war, despite its delivery date on the Dennis data being during the war - June 7th, 1943 to be precise.
It's actually one of comparatively few "normal" appliances to have an NFS series registration, since that of course is to whom it would be delivered.
This in turn makes me wonder whether it did actually appear on the scene with the 60' escape that you mention as being on the order. I'm certainly not saying it didn't originally have it, just wondering.
The factory photo that I have just shows the basic machine, does yours by any chance show it with an escape ? If it does, then my question about its being there originally clearly doesn't apply.
Could you just confirm that the chassis number is 3148A please ?

Added by Ian Moore on 27 May 2008.
Ian, it is actually my friend Peter McCombie who has been slaving away for many years with GXN782.

Changing the subject, do you think there is any significance to the suffix 'A' on the chassis number?

Best wishes,


Added by Barry on 27 May 2008.
it's indeed an interesting story as the town council originally ordered the 60ft escape ladder to be fitted to their existing Morris fire tender. Based on advice from Merryweather they then ordered the Dennis light 4. This info is based on council minutes and newspaper cuttings of the time. Speaking of pre-war appliances with NFS (London) registrations I also have an Austin Limousine bodied hose reel tender GLW 473 from Godfrey's of Uxbridge. This was one of nine ordered in 1939. GLW 474 also survived into preservation but seems to have gone to ground - any sightings?
Best Regards

Added by Peter McCombie on 30 May 2008.
GLW 473/474 were really unusual. You mention that there werer nine - do you have any further registration numbers ?
As regards 473 & 474, I'm assured these were built as early communication units for Scotland during the ward, the reson being that telephones were so few and far between.

Added by Ian Moore on 31 May 2008.
And as I'm sure everyone has realised, I meant "during the war, " (not 'during the ward' !)

Added by Ian Moore on 31 May 2008.
The specification was for First Aid Saloon tender on Bedford chassis each to to tow a Drysdale trailer pump. Supply difficulties led to only the first few being Bedfords and the rest a mixture of other makes (new and used chassis). Other reg Nos:-
BAV 171 Bedford O Alford
BAV 350 Bedford O Peterhead
BAV 435 Bedford O Fraserburgh
BAV 607 Bedford O Inverurie
GLW 473 Austin K2 Ballater
GLW 474 Austin K2 Turriff
Other possibles
RG 7661 Bedford W Ellon (Aberdeen city registration no.)
SE 5075 Dennis Light 4 Buckie
Locations based on photographic survey of stations in 1950s
I'll try posting some photos or drop me a line with your e-mail addr.

Added by Peter McCombie on 31 May 2008.
I've just double checked the chassis of GXN 782. Chassis no. is:- 3148A although production record omits the "A"

Added by Peter McCombie on 04 June 2008.
Hello Pete:
Have been happily trawling through your Contri's - for lots of British Fire Engine history, and details. Thanks.
Also tried the Web for the USA-built American Barton Front-Mount pump, as displayed here. Not much detail so far, other than images of USA Fire Trucks
mounting the pump.
One further detail of Anglo-American co-operation (and ironic) - American Barton was bought out by Hale - the big USA pump makers - and the name disappeared. Now Hale has taken over your Godiva Pumps......

Added by Pat_R-B on 05 June 2008.
I'll get an email done to you later today - probably this evening.

Added by Ian Moore on 05 June 2008.
I worked on Austin K2 GLW 474 as a student in 1973 when it was owned by the Aberdeen scouts. The non-synchro gearbox wasn't a problem as I owned a very aged Morris J4 and had had lots of practice with double declutching. Other students found it harder. We repainted it and tidied the wiring, which was all black and had lots of live loose ends from removed equipment, and a friend resealed the valves to cut the savage oil consumption. One particular delight was the very small petrol tank which meant refills were extremely frequent, about every 50 miles in town. As we'd had several fun moments with poor brake light visibility, I changed them to Consul Classic units, but we stored the originals carefully as we appreciated that some day someone might want to put it back into original order. We also fitted much bigger mirrors. One delight was that the vehicle slowed down more quickly at low speeds than the engine, which meant that first was unusable on the flat. It was, however, very useful on tracks in the hills when full of scouts and kit. Any recent photogrph would be appreciated.

Added by Pete Burgess on 25 February 2009.
What a large fire station......was it built as a station or was it another building converted?

Added by Barrie Green on 26 February 2009.
It was a new build not a conversion, the space above the appliance bay was empty if I remember correctly.

Added by Andy on 26 February 2009.
The Fordson was built as a pump escape with the type of two door canopy cab seen peeping out of the appliance room in this picture. This could seat six personnel, and was quite different from the rear access seat on the pumper version.

It had a US-supplied Barton front mounted crankshaft-drive 350 GPM pump, a 130 gallon tank and two hose reels. The design could accommodate a 50, 55 or 60 foot wheeled escape ladder, all of which were in service in different pre-war brigades.

While most of these Ford 3 ton chassis were used for pumpers, which were mainly added resources, many of the relatively small number of these wartime Fords and Austins pump escapes which were built tended to be replacements for old pre-war escape carriers which were due to be pensioned off.

The decision to install the Barton pump was to achieve a simple solution. Pulling a trailer pump got seriously in the way when it came time to slip the escape ladder, and a mid-mount PTO pump was just too complicated and expensive for mass production in wartime. The Barton was the most useful option, although it was not as powerful as most earlier peacetime pump escapes, which tended to have either 500 GPM pumps or 700 GPM pumps.

I saw several of these still in use by different brigades in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and it seems many of them saw 15 years of service or more. One was converted into a very ugly but apparently serviceable emergency tender in Lincolnshire, if I remember rightly, but most continued as pump escapes in smaller towns and county brigades.

Added by Rob Johnson on 03 May 2016.
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