Rhyl’s first Fire Engine

It would be marvellous to have a photograph of the arrival, by train, of Rhyl’s first fire engine nearly 150 years ago.  Unfortunately this is not possible, but the North Wales Chronicle of Saturday, December 17th, 1864 illustrates the scene for us very well:

An animated scene occurred in Rhyl, on Monday last, on the arrival of the Fire Engine, presented through the influence of Jas. Taylor, Esq., for the use of the town, by the Birmingham Fire Alliance Company.

At one o’clock p.m., the Commissioners, the Rhyl Fire Brigade, wearing their uniform, the Volunteer Corps and Band, formed in procession and marched to the Railway Station.  The engine came by the 1.23 train, attended by Mr. Sutton, secretary of the Company, Mr Westgate, and two other members of the Birmingham Fire Brigade, whose services were needed to instruct the Rhyl Brigade in its management.

Having been removed from the railway premises, it was mounted by the Brigade, and afterwards drawn by two powerful horses (the property of Mr Vaughan, the Baths) through the principal thoroughfares of the town, followed by the procession and hundreds of people of every age and sex.  Subsequently, the engine halted opposite the Town Hall, where its capabilities were admirably tested.  A large iron grate, filled with combustibles, was placed on the topmost part of the roof, and a roaring fire was shortly kindled.  The “alarm” was then given, and the brigade hurried to their post.   The hose and fire plug were instantaneously fixed, and in a very few moments the water was forcibly thrown on the spot of conflagration.  The fire, of course, was quickly extinguished, amidst a burst of deafening cheers.  Meanwhile, the engine was taken towards the new church over which (although 80ft, at least, in height) it sent the water easily.  We are informed that it is capable of throwing 150 gallons of water per minute to a height of 100ft.

We should state that Mr Sutton formally presented the engine to the town at the Town Hall, and it was accepted in grateful terms by the Rev. Hugh Morgan, Chairman of the Commissioners, who also offered up an appropriate prayer to almighty God for His protection over the town against the fearful effects of fire.

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4 Comments

Filed under Community, General

4 responses to “Rhyl’s first Fire Engine

  1. Robert aka Bob

    Well found, yes a photo would have been great, it must have been quite an occasion in the Town’s life of the day . Thank You.

  2. Garry Brooks

    Great report. It must have been some event in the town and the pride the whole community felt in having its own Fire engine.

  3. Alun Rhys Jones

    Risky business setting the fire on the roof of the town-hall, as I read it…. Fortunately we still have our lop-sided gothic-style (?) tower…

  4. The new fire engine came in 1864, but that was before the Town Hall that we know today. This is from the Liverpool Mercury of October 12th, 1876:
    “The Town Hall which the Rhyl commissioners have built in that town, in place of the wretched structure which did duty for many years, was formally opened by the lord-lieutenant of the county of Flintshire.”
    I wonder was it always “wretched” or was it just after someone lit a fire on the roof?

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