Liverpool Fire Police 1836 - 1941

1836 - On formation the new Fire Police was now part of the newly formed Borough Police the had a strength of 42, a Foreman, a Timekeeper / Assistant who was also in charge of Scavengers and was based in Fenwick St, plus  40 PC’s who were all auxiliaries ie they were on the beat and called in to fight fires when required, the Pc’s were mainly former insurance office men.

1837 - 20 PC’s from the former Dock Watch were added in June received training and 1s extra per week to undertake firefighting duties when required.

Fire Police 1851.
Fire Police, 1851.

1851 - The strength of the Fire police was now 65 comprising a Supt and 5 full time men based at Temple Ct 2 on nights, 2 on days plus 1 on nights St Georges Hall, also a boy messenger, and 59 Police Auxiliaries some trained as Turncocks.

1860 - With the huge increase in trade, the number of warehouses etc the Fire Police was re-organised it now comprised of 144 men. A Superintendent, an Inspector as his deputy and 4 full time men at Hatton Garden ,which had opened in 1858 replacing Temple Ct. Then there were 138 part time Police Auxiliaries including 45 Turncocks allocated as:
36 North Docks Division
34 South Docks       “
34 South                    “
38 North                     “

1865 - The Merryweather steamer ‘CLINT’ was delivered this was Liverpool’s second machine the first steamer having been delivered to the Docks Committee in 1830.

1875 - Now manpower was 184, 32 additional Fire Police Auxiliaries having been added to the establishment on 13 Jly and 4 more full time men as well as 2 Engineers to look after the 2 steam fire engines.

1893 Jan - It was resolved the new steamer be named HOLT, after Sir John Holt the shipping magnate and Lord Mayor, it was delivered, stationed at Hatton Garden.  Drawn by 3 horses during trials it achieved an output of 1,800 gpm, the largest capacity of any steam fire engine in the world at that time. It usually fed 3/16 open nozzle branches each of which required 6 men to operate, it was pulled by 3 rather than the usual 2 horses. Only two of its size were built, the other going to the Bombay.

1895 November - With the expansion of the City boundaries the strength was now 326 - 46 Full time comprising 5 officers - Supt, Dep Supt, 3 Insp, 6 Sgt, 28 PC Plus 5 Engineers and 280 Auxiliaries.

1902 March - The Head Constable was authorised to make enquiries regarding the purchase of a chemical motor engine.

August - Liverpool received on-loan a Daimler F brake chassis, designed for a charabanc body. It had an 18hp engine with chain drive and bodywork by the local agents, the Royal Carrying Co, Fowlers Building, 7 Victoria St, Liverpool. The vehicle was on loan for 2 weeks of trials, the owner of the Royal Mr George Bechtel and an assistant were responsible for the machine. It was agreed if it was not bought; a payment would be made to cover costs as well as wear & tear. It carried a crew of driver +6 including a waterman. A Merryweather gong was fitted on the nearside.
Over the two weeks, during the 2nd answering fire and test calls at night, it proved to be quicker than the horse drawn appliances. On the last Saturday night a demonstration for the WC was arranged, despite hitting a tram at the junction of Hatton Garden and Dale St, they drove on past the Adelphi hotel and up the hill on Hardman St beating the horses. The order was confirmed that night the LPFB buying the machine for £750-.this was only the second motor to enter service with a UK fire brigade

1903 - The Daimler’s reliability proved to be so poor that after only a few months it was relegated to use as a stores tender, at Hatton Garden, the chemical tank & hosereel being removed. This unreliability was in the main due to a lack of power and the old open-flame ignition system which caused frequent trouble and backfiring, hence its nickname ‘Farting Annie’.

1907 - The strength had risen to 442, made up of 77 Full time [6 Officers, 11 Sgt, 60 PC’s] with 84 Escapemen / Firemen Turncocks and 281 Auxiliaries.            

- A quotation for £1,375 from Henry Simonis of Norfolk House, Norfolk St, London was approved  for the supply of an 85’ electrically powered turntable escape, this decision having previously been put off several times. Regarded as a simpler design than a petrol machine as electric power was less complicated, a number of electric appliances were already in use in Continental cities such as Vienna, but this was the first in the UK.

Fire Police 1910.
Fire Police, 1910.

The machine had a Braun 85’ four section wooden ladder to which a 14’ extension could be added. Simonis body built to a Braun design on a Braun chassis.
Powered by accumulators (batteries) driving 2 electric motors with the drives fitted on the front wheel hubs sufficient for 18 miles at 20mpg, recharging costs £10 pa
6 forward and 2 reverse speeds and 2 strengths of breaking. Front wheel drive it had a very small turning circle.

Simonis this year also built an electric 1st turn machine for Liverpool, fitted with a chemical unit connected to a hosereel. It had a Braun chassis with a Simonis body and carried 60g of water. Allocated registration number K 1538 it went on the run at Hatton Garden on loan from the makers.

1912 Mar - Liverpool was an early user of foam which had been invented 8 years earlier in Russia. A small foam outfit was purchased from Messrs Simonis of London for £20. It weighed 5 cwt and a 100g removable tank was fitted on the top of one of the Steam Motors at a cost of £30 The foam was expelled by mixing it with carbonic gas, it took time however to get the right formula, at first the type of foam was found to flow weakly.

1920 - The Watch Committee agreed to a revised strength of 259 men. This included an additional 30 full time firemen allowed to make up for a serious shortage of auxiliaries due to sackings following the 1919 strike
139 Full time made up of:             
1 Chief Superintendent who lived at Hatton Garden,
1 Chief Inspector who lived at 170 Chatham St
6 Inspectors - Town lived at 11 Bold Place
15 Sergeant’s
116 PC’s,
At Hatton Garden were 2 Inspectors, 10 Sgts, 69 PC in 2 watches - plus 9 on permanent days in Workshops and Stores
Westminster Rd       Inspector +Sgt +10PC
Essex St                    Inspector +Sgt +10PC
Derby La                    Inspector +Sgt +10PC
Heald St                     Sgt +11PC
Kildonan Rd             Inspector +Sgt +6PC
120 Auxiliaries
Also 54 Civilians including 6 drivers, watermen, clerks

1928 Feb 28 - The Watch Committee approved the purchase of a continuous single dry powder (chemical) foam generator from Foamite Firefoam Ltd, London W1, at a cost of £70-0s-0d, to be carried on Tender No1.

1938 - Liverpool’s City Engineers Dept commissioned 2 trailers to be used for carrying tools and equipment to deal with collapsed buildings and damage resulting from air raids. One was kept at the Pumpfields Depot, Vauxhall Rd and the other at the Council’s Breckside Depot. They were towed by one of the Liverpool Fire Brigade’s motor tenders from Hatton Garden. They were used during the Blitz but thereafter appear to have fallen out of use.

1941 August - The Brigades strength just before nationalisation was
272 - 16 Officers, 183 Fm including 12 ex AFS, with 73 Police Auxiliaries plus 12 civilians.

About Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Heritage and Education Centre


Merseyside has a 180-year proud tradition of firefighting and has often been at the forefront of innovation and new technology during that time.

The service has memorabilia, machines and equipment from generations of firefighting and one of the largest photographic archives of any UK fire and rescue service including more than 80,000 digitised files and pictures. Why not visit our Heritage and Education Centre.

more about the Heritage Centre

Opening Times

The Heritage Centre is open to the Public Monday to Friday between 10.00 and 15.00.

It is essential that visits are pre-booked, preferably by telephone or email.

Tel: 0151 296 4714 / 4640


For reception staff if members of the public arrive at reception to visit the Heritage Centre without pre-booking please phone the centre to check staff are available.

The Heritage and Education centre is located at; Bridle Road, Bootle, L30 4YD