St Helens Fire Brigade History

1830s - Hand drawn manual fire engine and 2 water carts recorded as being in use in the town, the engine was kept at th Parish church

1846 - The Surveyor to the Improvement Commission was instructed to enquire into the state of the fire engine and the water carts.

1859 May 11 - A report from Mr Penketh was considered by the Sub-committee recommending they spend £71-10s-0d on equipment and to engage a number of men to serve as retained firemen at a cost of no more than £30 pa, approved.
The equipment purchased comprised of:
Hand Cart, Reel Cart                                                           £8-
150 yds of hose                                                                    £50-
Cupboard in Engine House                                              £3-10s
2 Standpipes, brass                                                             £2-10s
3 ladders, 1 x 30’, 2 x 20’                                                    £3-10s
Bench and screw                                                                 £2-10s
Monkey wrenches x 2                                                         £1-10s

1863 - First FB Superintendent was appointed, 12 retained Fm, station on St Mary St
1 manual engine, 1 hand cart, 1 reel cart in use.

1868 - St Helens became a Borough.

1875 - A fire escape ladder was presented by a local solicitor, Mr J Ansdell.

1876 - The brigade now came under the Water Committee.
A new 2-bay station opened in the new Town Hall, with an entry on Parade St, horses supplied from the adjoining livery stables, now 3 full time firemen with the Supt living next to the station.
Aug 08 Mon - Supt Barrett of the West of England Fire Brigade in Liverpool, drilled the St Helens Fire Brigade and found the men ‘perfectly competent for their duties as firemen’.1

1880 - A Horse drawn [HD] Hose Carriage was purchased.

1881 - HD Shand Mason Equilibrium 450gpm steamer was purchased.2

Dennis F7 Pump.
Dennis F7 Pump.
1887 - St Helens Borough Police was formed, Chief Constable James Wood.

1889 - HD Shand Mason Double Vertical 450gpm steamer purchased.3

1893 Mar 07 Tue - In connection with the re-organisation of the St Helens Fire Brigade, the Corporation Water Committee acting on the suggestion of the Fire Brigade sub-committee decided to recommend the Council appoint Mr Rutherford, a senior fireman of the Bootle Brigade, as Superintendent.4

June 14 Wed - At a meeting of the Water Committee under Alderman Gamble, Supt Rutherford recommended the Brigade needed to be re-organised. Only 4 of the 8 Fm were fit, 2 of them working men and 2 PC’s, 2/3rds of the hose was out for repair and the appliances were in poor repair. The Committee agreed to carry out an inspection.
Appliances: 1 Manual, 1 Steamer, Hose Carriage, 1 escape

1894 Oct - Brigade was re-organised under the Watch Committee [WC], Chief Constable James Wood titular CO with a mix of police officers and civilians as firemen.

1896 - A Shand Mason 45’ escape was purchased

1909 - A HD steamer was delivered to replace the 1881 engine5

1910 - The Brigade was again re-organised due to the Chairman of the WC finding it to be ‘inferior to others of similar size’, it now became fully a Police FB with day duty police doing night duty as part time firemen, Sgt in charge
HD Steamer, HD Hose carriage, 45’ escape.

1911 - The Brigade’s first motor engine, a Belsize-Morris Foreman with a Mather and Platt turbine pump and an escape was delivered.

1917 - The Supt’s post, up to now a Sergeant, became an Inspector.

Leyland Water Tender Ladder.
Leyland Water Tender Ladder..
1939 - A Professional brigade separate from the Police was formed under the 1938 FB Act, cover was also provided for Rainford UDC by agreement.

1941 Aug 18 - The Brigade became part of the NFS, FF26, part of G Division
HQ ‘The Elms’ Cowley Hill, St Helens; OIC DO Jessop.

Parr Stocks Road, 1970s.
Parr Stocks Road, 1970s.
1948 Apr 01 - St Helens County Borough fire brigade was formed with a station behind the Town Hall on Parade St dating from the 1880’s. The turntable ladder acquired during the war would not fit in the station was kept in the nearby bus garage
1959 Nov - Parr Stocks Rd fire station opened constructed by Council’s Workforce on the site of a chemical pit. Parade St was retained as a 1 pump station.

1972 - Millfields fire station opened, Parade St closed after 96 years

1974 Apr 01 - St Helens became part of Merseyside County FB


1 Liverpool Mercury Aug 10

2 In a 1902 testimonial Supt Lyon says it was delivered in 1902

3 In a 1902 testimonial Supt Lyon says it was delivered in 1902

4Liverpool Mercury

5  J Robertson

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