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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Vintage fire engine is rescued from orchard

WHEN you see the gleaming paintwork on vintage vehicles at events like the recent Cumbria Steam Gathering at Flookburgh Airfield it is hard to imagine that many of them have been restored over months or even years.

One good example is this 1943 Dodge-type 101a truck which was supplied new to Windermere fire station in 1943.

In the war years it would have been designated a Heavy Pump Unit – basically a five-ton truck with a crew cab and a big pump on the back.

It spent the war years carrying fire equipment, including a dam to hold large quantities of water.

In 1947 it became a more standard fire-fighting vehicle and was termed a Water Tender.

A display board by the restored engine noted: “After the war it was decided that it should be converted into a ‘proper’ fire engine – in fact to Home Office standard.

“The work was entrusted to Atkinsons in Kendal who built the bodywork on a frame of timber skinned in aluminium.”

The new-look fire engine returned to Windermere where it worked until the mid-1960s when newer vehicles became available from what was then the Westmorland Fire Brigade.

Rather than retiring fire engine GXO 480 it was used as a handy spare machine throughout the Westmorland division.

When others went in for servicing or repair the wartime machine would go back into front line duty.

In this role, the engine saw service in most of the fire stations in the county, including some time at both Kirkby Stephen and Appleby.

It attended fires and other incidents right into the 1970s.

On retirement, it was sold by a sealed bid tender process and went to Neville Brook, from Ravenstonedale.

It attended a number of displays until it slowly deteriorated and was rescued and restored from an orchard by Mr Brook’s son Paul in 2000.

After a major restoration the engine was back on public show in April last year.

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