Welcome to my site about Oldham County Borough Fire Brigade and also Lees Fire Brigade in the nearby village. I shall be adding bits and pieces as I go along so feel free to email me (mailto:markbeswick@hotmail.co.ukwith any photos, information or just anecdotes as you go along.

Oldham's Central Fire Station was built in 1887 (the Spindles & Town Square shopping malls currently stand on the site) but by around 1970 it was considered unfit for purpose. In 1969 the Chief Fire Officer Harold Garlick said that the appliances had been able to reach a fire more speedily in the days of the horse drawn vehiclws than they could now. The volume of traffic on Union St meant that it could take a fire engine upto five minutes just to crawl from Peter St to the Star Inn junction, a section of road nicknamed the "Union St Crawl". Furthermore, fire engines had trouble driving out of the station into Peter St because of parked cars or larger vehicles.

With the opening of the St Peter's Precint, the situation grew worse. By 1973 the Chairman of the Fire Services Committee, Councillor H. Matthews, thought that the existing Central Fire Station was not a credit to the town. Out of more than 40 fire stations in the region, Oldham's premises at Ascroft St & Werneth were the only 19th century buildings listed. On 12th December 1979 Oldham's new £500,000 fire staion on Vineyard St/ Lees Rd was officially opened by Councillor ChristiineHarrison. Shortly after this the last engine to leave Ascroft St station answered a call at derelict offices at the Kings Mill, Shaw Rd, Royton. The fire station site was sold and the building itself demolished in Nov 1982 after being repeatedly targeted by vandals.

Werneth Fire Station was opened in 1897 on Frederick St. Although it served it's purpose well for almost a hundred years, by the beginning of the 1980s it was felt outdated. It was closed down in March 1981 because it was considered to be on an unsuitable site due to it's proximity to a busy road junction. It was bought by Oldham Council for £78,500 when the Fire Service moved into new premises on Hollins Rd. Although many plans were put forward for developing the fine old building, nothing was done. The building fell into a state of disrepair and became a serious hazard. In January 1985 a passer-by was struck on the head by apiece of plaster falling from it. It was demolished at the end of the 1980s to make way for a major road improvement scheme on Manchester Road. Such was the fine quality of the building that sections of the clock tower & several teracotta decorations were salvaged by some of the country's top architectural antique fitters & the pediment was built into the garden above one the car parks at a housing complex in Malton St.


I would like to thank Steve Swallow and the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum at Rochdale for some of the material supplied.

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