Wellington Fire Station celebrated its 65th anniversary after a chance discovery on Ebay uncovered the station’s opening programme of 1953.
Retired firefighters, including a 93-year-old veteran, joined the Wellington mayor, members of the Fire Brigade Society and firefighters and officers to mark the event.
The Wellington station in Haybridge Road was “the centre” of Shropshire fire brigade when it was built in 1953 with satellite stations at Shifnal, Oakengates, Ironbridge, Newport and Albrighton, said Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton.
“The Queen had just been crowned, the Korean war ended, there was the first polio vaccine and the first ever colour TVs on sale,” he said.
Back in the early 1950’s, the brick built building was a new design with all modern fittings of the time including alarm bells “working off mains voltage,” a modern console control in the watch room, folding bunk beds and a dormitory for ten with access to the muster bay by a steel pole drop.
Today Wellington Fire Station still plays an important role with both wholetime and “on call” firefighters skilled in urban search and rescue ready to be deployed across the UK as part of a national resilience team, said the firechief.
Retired firefighter Des Carter (93), of Rosthewaite, Wellington, joined the newly formed Shropshire fire brigade in 1949 after serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
Based in Wellington, he recalled one of the major emergencies when a huge fire ripped through an aluminium foundry in Ironbridge which “melted bricks” and had national repercussions for firefighting.
“Two foundry men died. It was in the early days and water was put on the fire which involved aluminium and made the fire worse and there were explosions. No-one understood then that sand should have been used,” said Des, who attended many chimney and house fires during his firefighting career.
“It was a different fire service then. They have the equipment and training now. It is completely different from our day when we took chances that we shouldn’t. We wore rubber boots, black leggings and heavy coats that took water.”
Celebrations to mark the anniversary included a technical display from the station’s renowned and highly trained animal rescue unit which carries out rescues across the county.
Station Officer Craig Jackson said they replicated the 1953 opening with a tour of the station and a display for visitors.
The Fire Brigade Society was also thanked for making the anniversary celebrations possible by finding the old programme on Ebay.
For more information please visit: www.shropshirefire.gov.uk
Top image: Professor Howard Davies, of the National Fire Brigade Society, with Wellington Mayor Cindy Mason-Morris, presents the original 1953 opening programme to Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton.