For a great many generations fire fighting has been an awkward problem
 with which to deal, and it remains so today. While it is probably not so
 difficult now to fight and overcome fires, the work is more dangerous
 today than was the case formerly by reason of the greater area covered by
 buildings and their increased height. In modern times great improvements
 have been made in the means employed for the prevention and extinction of
 fires. Broad thoroughfares have taken the place of narrow, crooked
 streets; incombustible materials are now used in the construction of
 buildings, both inside and outside, than was the case formerly; abundant
 supplies of water have been generally introduced; the electric fire alarm,
 telegraph and telephone ensure promptitude at the scene of the
 conflagration; and motor engines and pumps, extension ladders and
 innumerable mechanical appliances now in daily use have seen a revolution
 undreamed of in comparatively modern times, to say nothing of a couple of
 centuries ago. Many readers will no doubt be able to recall tragic as well
 as humorous incidents associated with Fire Brigades. The writer remembers
 one in the later category. A cyclist one evening enquired for the Captain
 of the Brigade in a small Suffolk town and finding him, delivered the
 message thus, "There is a fire at ....... (about four miles away) and will
 you please bring your Brigade at six o'clock tomorrow morning?" When an
 explanation was forthcoming, it transpired that on a certain farm a stack
 was smouldering - such instances of internal combustion are not uncommon
 -and it was deemed desirable to save the expenses consequent upon the
 attendance of the Brigade all night, it was judged there would not be any
 danger of the fire becoming general for a certain number of hours. Hence
 the call for the Brigade at "six o'clock the next morning."
 Soon after their establishment in 1696 and for a long time subsequently,
 insurance companies undertook not only to reimburse the insured for loss,
 but also to extinguish the fires. About 1708, one office proposed that all
 persons insured with it should have a mark nailed against their houses so
 that the men employed by the company to extinguish the fires and save
 property might direct their efforts for the benefit of those houses so
 distinguished. Marks of this sort were afterwards generally adopted by the
 insurance offices, and are at times to be seen even at the present day,
 though they no longer serve their original purpose. For more than a
 century and a half the insurance offices provided and kept up fire engines
 at their own expense, not only in London, but in many provincial towns,
 where frequently no other means of extinguishing fires were available. At
 first every insurance company had its own fire engines and their own men
 to work them; but in 1825 some of them joined together and when the
 advantages of union were seen most of the other companies desired to take
 part in the combination already formed, the result of which was that in
 1833 a more extensive organisation was made. Such was the state of matters
 until the duty in London of extinguishing fires and protecting life and
 property in case of fire was declared by an Act of Parliament, passed on
 July 5th 1865 to be entrusted to the Metropolitan Board of Works. In the
 following year the offices handed over their whole establishment to the
 new authority, the cost being partly provided for by a contribution from
 the offices, partly by a grant from the Treasury and partly by the rates.
 The companies have now ceased to regard it as any part of their duty to
 extinguish fires or to bear the cost of extinguishing them.
 In the first chapter of the immortal "Pickwick Papers", Mr Pickwick speaks
 of the fire brigades of 1827 thus - " He (Mr Pickwick) would not deny that
 he was influenced by human passions and human feelings - (cheers) -
 possibly by human weaknesses - (loud cries of 'No') - but this he would
 say, that if ever the fire of self importance broke out in his bosom, the
 desire to benefit the human race in preference effectually quenched it.
 The praise of mankind was his swing, philanthropy was his insurance
 office (Vehement cheering). Captain Swing was the Captain Moonlight of his
 days - being a generic name for rick firers - so that Mr Pickwick referred
 to his being set afire by the praise of mankind, and the flame would be
 put out by Philanthropy, his insurance office which in those days
 maintained the fire engines and its brigades.
 The last insurance company in the Oldham district to be responsible for
 the extinguishing of outbreaks was the West Of England Company. Mr Joseph
 Hall was superintendent of the brigade at that period, and it was his duty
 to attend all fires in the interests of the insurance companies.
Oldham Brigade's Early Years

 So far as Oldham is concerned there was a town fire brigade in the early
 years of the nineteenth century, a fire engine house being built by public
 subscription in 1807. As time went on progress was naturally made, and in
 1849 a new fire station was opened at Bottom o'-th'- Moor, while in 1864
 the Municipal Fire Brigade was established, an organisation which was
 overhauled and placed on a permanent basis in 1876. The first steam fire
 engine was designed and built in 1829, but though Oldham steadily improved
 its equipment from time to time, it was not until 1875 that they launched
 out and became possessors of their first engine of this character.
 Previously, hand pumps had been operated by 30 men known as pumpers. Those pumpers had stipulated payment and liberal supplies of beer, the latter at
 much less cost than today even including the Budget reduction. Strikes
 among the pumpers were not infrequent, but a new era dawned with the
 advent of the 'teetotal' appliance provided by the steam fire engines,
 which on proof of their efficiency soon became more numerous as
 expediency required. In country villages even today the hand pumps prevail
 the whole of the tackle having to be drawn by horses. This horse power
 method of transport was responsible for many amusing features - amusing
 that is to those whose property was not burning  at the time. It was
 nothing unusual to have to wait for some time until the arrival of the
 horses from some neighbouring cab yard. The frequent calls from the out
 districts of Oldham rendered it necessary for the central authorities to
 charge a retaining fee and an equitable basis was arrived at, a system
 which obtains today.
Formation Of Lees Brigade


Reference has already been made to various systems of organisation for
 fire fighting but there was also another method which prevailed locally
 and ???? That was the banding together by individuals with interests at
 stake for the provision of portable equipment. Such a contributory
 organisation existed at Lees and as this was not wound up until 1890 after
 having existed for something like 71 years, many readers will be able to
 remember it. Memory however will not carry back to its’ establishment and
 in this series of articles we propose from records which are available, to
 set forth the more interesting incidents associated with the Lees
 Subscription Fire Brigade.
 The following persons were present at a meeting held at the house of
 Matthew Slater, Lees on June 18 1819 for the purpose of taking into
 consideration the propriety of purchasing a fire engine: Messrs.
 James Dyson, Ralph Taylor, James Knott, John Nicholson, John Booth, John
 Andrew, John Dyson (all of Lees);  Messrs. Ogden & Heywood (Hey), Messrs
 Rhodes & Schofield (Hey), Mr Richard Dransfield, Mr John Buckley
 (Shelderslow), Messrs B & W Beaumont, Mr John Mayall (Hey), Mr John  Tetlow (Hey), Mr Nathaniel Buckley (Mossley), Mr James Seville (Mossley) and Messrs Joseph Wrigley and Co. Lydgate. At that gathering it was resolved
 "that a fire engine be purchased and stationed in a convenient place at or
 near, Lees and the following persons be empowered to purchase the same
 viz. John Andrew, William Nicholson, Ralph Taylor, Robert Ogden and also
 be appointed to solicit subscriptions for carrying the above object into
 Though definite dates are omitted for upwards of two years, considerable
 progress was made. The engine was purchased from Messrs Hopwood & Co., for £60 10s but the total cost in connection with it amounted to £71 8s 1d.
 Among the additional expenditure was £5 15s for a leather pipe, 13s for
 carriage to Mr Pickfords’ warehouse, London,  £2 17s for carriage from
 London to Manchester and 13s carriage from Manchester. In order to defray
 this expense it was resolved "that the rate of subscription shall be by
 the horse power, and that 7s 6d per horse power be first collected, but
 should that sum be inadequate, a further rate of 2s 6d be collected for
 the necessary purpose of completing the design". The original subscribers
 were:- Messrs Ogdens and Heywood (£6), Messrs B and W Beaumonts, Messrs J Wrigley and Co., Messrs Booth and Andrew, Mr James Knott, Mr Thomas
 Taylor, Messrs Harrop & Sons and Mr Nathaniel Buckley (£4 10s each),
 Messrs Rhodes and Schofield, Mr John Robinson, Mr J. Bramhall, Mr John
 Nicholson, Mr Richard Dransfield and Mr James Wright (£3 15s each), Mr
 John Mayall (£2 5s), Mr James Dyson (£2), Mr John Buckley (£110s), Mr
 James Lees of Lees, Mr John Tetlow, Mr John Robinson both of Austerlands,
 Messrs Joseph Wrigley and Co., and Messrs J. Lees and Co., both of Hey (£1
 each), Mr Thomas Harrop of Netherlees and Mr Lawrence Law of Lees (10s
 each), Mr James Law of Hopkin Mill (5s) and two subscriptions of £1. After
 payment of expenses of the engine there was left a balance of £1 11s 11d.
 A further resolution of the committee pointed to a desire to take proper
 care of the property. It read, "that a sufficient person be appointed to
 take charge of the engine, and shall receive such wages as the committee
 may judge requisite." The committee it was decided, should consist of four
 members appointed annually to superintend the concern and see that all
 money received and disbursed be regularly entered in a book kept for that
 The return for the subscriptions paid is revealed in the minute which
 states that each subscriber should have at all times have free access to
 the engine and use it upon any part of his property if required, but it
 was also the duty of such subscriber to make good any damage done to the
 engine. Neglect to pay subscriptions in accordance with the resolutions
 meant that subscribers forfeited all claim to use the engine. To keep it in
 repair, the manager was instructed to test the engine from time to time
 and see that it was completely ready for use at any time.
The First Engine House

 Suitable storage accommodation naturally became desirable, and on November
 2 1821, it was decided to build an engine house and "that land for this
 purpose be purchased in a close belonging to Mr Joseph Bracewell near the
 road leading from Lees to Hey." Messrs John Heywood, John Andrew, Robert
 Ogden and John Buckley were empowered to superintend the said building.
 Presumably with the object of defraying this expenditure, it was decided
 that a further collection of 2s 6d per horse power be made from each
 subscriber, Messrs John Knott, William Nicholson, John Ogden and Benjamin
 Beaumont being chosen to see that payments were made. At the same time Mr
 John Heywood of Hey was appointed Treasurer.
 The sum received by the call referred to brought in £25 17s 11d, but it is
 interesting to note that according to the same accounts a donation of ten
 guineas was received from the Phoenix Fire Office. The cost of the land
 for the engine house was £4 and the building of it the mason appears to
 have charged £9, while 15s 4d was expended for slating. Bearing in mind
 the prices for labour today it is of interest to note that on November 3
 1821, Cresswell Buckley was paid 11s 3d for four and a half days work. The
 sum of 6s was expended upon a lock with two keys.
Chapter II
 What transpired in connection with the Brigade for several years
 subsequently there is no record, but at the meeting held on April 25 1827,
 it was decided that every person using the engine for the purpose of
 quelling any fire should charge the company with whom he insures £5, which
 should be paid to the treasurer, out of which that official would pay 4s
 per man actively engaged. At the same time there was a decision " to
 exercise the engine" six times in the year,” and to" please them for their
 trouble," each fireman was to have 5s when called out to quell any fire if
 the engine was used for that purpose, but it was not to play unless the
 proprietor thought proper.
 As time went on it was found that all contingencies were not provided for,
 and further provisions were made and earlier ones amended or amplified. At
 a meeting held at the house of Mr Barnfather, Lees on February 27 1828, it
 was decided that every non-subscriber who took the engine, be called upon
 to pay £1, but if it was played upon the fire the charge should be £5,
 the same figure it will be remembered, as subscribers were called upon to
 charge their insurance offices. That there should be differentiation
 between subscribers and non-subscribers, however had evidently been
 discussed in the intervening months, as it was now agreed that every
 subscribers who took the engine without using it  be not charged any fee,
 but if it was used the charge would be £3, which the subscriber would call
 upon the insurance offices to pay. The only variation to the insurance
 office charge was "with the exception of the Phoenix office, which shall
 be compromised with, because of their subscribing to the engine at the
 commencement of the concern". It will thus be seen that if that particular
 office had many clients with fires they adopted an advantageous policy in
 allotting a comparatively small sum on the establishment of local
Fire Chief and His Assistants
 About this period it was felt desirable to allocate responsibility, and
 James Knott, a blacksmith was requested to undertake the superintendence
 of the engine and keep it in thorough repair. Five other men were chosen
 as assistants. The previous decision was reaffirmed, "that trial workings
 should take place once each two months, and William Taylor and William
 Nicholson were authorised to make the best terms possible with Knott" - at
 42s per year. What may be described as the original official Lees Fire
 Brigade comprised:- James Knott (head engineer), H. Shaw, John
 Winterbottom, George Bennett, James Buckley, John Heywood and James
 Robinson. A note attached showed the stipulation that if all seven
 attended they were not to receive more than 30s. The necessary
 accoutrements of the times were gradually added, as it was agreed that
 half-a-dozen cans be purchased and painted " with the proper designation"
 a bell on be purchased and erected and a new pipe be obtained. In order to
 meet these outgoings subscribers were called upon to contribute 1s per
 horsepower, and if any refused to comply with those terms they were to
 forfeit all claims to the use of the engine.
The First Fires
 The first records of fires appear in accounts audited by William Nicholson
 on November 10, 1831. An outbreak at the premises of Messrs R & T Taylor
 on January 24 1827 cost the firm £3 12s 0d, which they paid on February
 28 in the following year. On June 12 1828, Mr John Nicholson paid £3 in
 respect to a fire on his premises, and for a like purpose Mr John Mayall
 paid a similar sum on October 16 the same year. Messrs Taylor Son & Gibson
 (Springhead) paid a quota to the treasurer on July 29 1830 and again on
 June 27 1831, so they had apparently had two outbreaks in a comparatively
 short period. The firm also paid £3 1s 6d for a new pipe but the reason for
 this is not disclosed. According to the same accounts £1 was paid for an
 alarm bell on November 11 1828, but on December 27 the same year the bell
 was exchanged at an additional cost of 12s. The balance due to the
 treasurer at this time was £4 9s 9d.
 Dissatisfaction had been expressed relative to the charges as at a public
 meeting at the Swan Inn, Lees on November 10 1831, Mr John Rockliffe
 presiding, the previous decisions that subscribers should pay £3 and
 non-subscribers £5 for the use of the engine at fires, was revised to £5
 and £10 respectively. The alarm bell had had a brief life, as in the
 consequence of it breaking a new bell was ordered to be purchased,
 together with an additional pipe and the necessary couplings. To carry on
 the concern generally a further levy of 2s per horsepower was imposed
 upon each subscriber. " The fire engine and pipes shall not be used for
 any other purpose than to quell a fire" is the wording of a resolution,
 which points to something having occurred with the engine which was not in
 accordance with the wishes of the subscribers.
 For something like twelve years, when the next minutes appear, the interim
 occurrences must be taken from the accounts, which are not very
 informative. Our friends, Messrs R & T Taylor & Co., evidently did not
 become subscribers to an ornament, as on February 1 1832, they had a fire
 and were the first to contribute on the new and higher scale. Messrs
 Taylor, Son & Gibson who are twice mentioned previously as having fires
 called upon the brigade once more for which they paid £5 on December 27
 1833. The first non-subscribers mentioned as calling upon the use of the
 engine and men are Messrs Samuel Wrigley & Bros (Wrigleys Mill, Scouthead) for which privilege they contributed £10 on March 6 1835. The first
 instance of calling out the engine as a standby in possible emergency is
 revealed in the payment of £1 in December 1835 by D. Mellor. On the 5th of
 the same month John Andrew and Thomas Booth paid £5 for the use of the
 engine and a similar amount was contributed by our old friends Messrs
 Taylor, Son & Gibson who were the best customers to date on January 12
 1836. The subscriber's rate was also paid by Messrs Dransfield on March 12
 1841, and for a fire at Hopkin mill, Mr Thomas Taylor paid £5 in October
 1842. On the expenditure side the alarm bell seems to have been a
 continuous source of expense, as £7 11s was paid to R. Ormrod on February 2
 1832, presumably for a new bell, and the hanging cost 16s 6d. By the end
 of April 1843 the debit balance had been reduced to 5s 41/2d.
 A meeting was held at the house of Mr Jackson, New Inn, Lees on July 12
 1843, Mr John Andrew in the chair; when it was resolved that, as several
 sums were owing for the repair of the engine house and engine, a new rate
 of 1s 6d be levied upon each subscriber. When collected these levies raised
 £18 5s. In 1845 Messrs Atherton paid £1 for calling out the engine on May
 20 and on September 11 Messrs Nicholson paid £5 for attendance at a fire
 on their premises. Further conflagrations recorded show that on October
 29 1847 the executors of J Buckley paid £5, like sums being contributed by
 Samuel Taylor on October 10 1848 and John Andrew on November 17. Other
 outbreaks appear to have occurred at the premises of Mr John Nicholson on
 October 24 1846, and Messrs Schofield and Fielding on March 2 1852, but
 the contributions due are not credited in the accounts, which on May 24
 showed a balance in hand of 8s 51/2d, a sum which was passed over to Mr
 Thomas Taylor of Blakehouse, the new treasurer.

Need For New Engines
 The most ambitious step forward was taken at a meeting at the New Inn,
 Lees on May 24 1852, Mr John Booth presiding, when it was resolved that
 two new engines be provided and that a rate of 4d per horse power be
 levied on all subscribers to cover the expense. The committee appointed to
 deal with the affairs of the brigade were Messrs Samuel Seville, John
 Schofield and Thomas Taylor. On June 21 it was decided to order two
 engines, one with a 7" bore and the other 9". Caution, however, was not
 lacking as the committee resolved to obtain the one of the smaller bore
 first in order to test it. The decision efficiently to repair the old
 engine as soon as the new one came to hand showed that the committee meant
 to be as well prepared for any emergency. Six firemen and a conductor were
 agreed upon, and as many of the engineers of the neighbourhood as
 practicable. The conductor was James Street, " so long as he gives
 satisfaction to the committee". At the same time the principle was laid
 down that it was desirable that the engines should be taken for practice
 to the mills of each subscriber so that the firemen might understand the
 premises, and in the case of fire be able at once to place the engines in
 the best position - a wise precaution.
 In addition to the payment of the 4s levy by the subscribers, as referred
 to, £25 each was contributed by the Royal Insurance, Phoenix, and Leeds
 and Yorkshire companies, and £20 by the Anchor Assurance Co., so that £95
 was received from the various fire offices. A new engine was duly
 delivered by Messrs Barton & Co., and for it they paid £143 on October 5
 1852. Their statement showed it was "an improved fire engine, double
 acting with gun metal pumps, 7" in diameter, folding arms, tub, pole,
 shafts, 2 branches, 4 nozzles, 12 bright hose keys, 3 lengths of leather
 suctions with union joints, 3 lengths of leather hose piping with union
 joints, 4 bright suction keys, copper rose, complete £125". At a cost of
 £30 15s, 82 yards of extra leather suction with joints, was also provided.
 That made a total of £155 15s, but overcharge and discount brought the net
 sum to £143.
And A New Engine House
 The additional engines naturally over taxed the accommodation of the
 original building, and on September 15 1852, it was decided to empower the
 committee to proceed with the erection of a new building suitable for the
 purpose of accommodating all the engines. For this building there was paid
 on November 19 1852, £18 10s, £7 8s 6d for flags and flagging and £7 7s 6d
 for slates etc., and a few days later £17 for timber and work, and £3 12s
 for stove etc., a total with various extras of upward of £60. An
 examination of the receipts shows that the charges made for workmen’s time
 in those days in the building industry varied from 3s 10d and 3s 41/2d per
 day, while for joiners it was 4s 6d per day. During the negotiations
 relative to the site, Lord Stamfords agent wrote, "I beg to inform you
 that the piece of land asked for may be used for the purpose of the Lees
 fire engine, and that as long as it may be required for that purpose, and
 no necessity arises for Lord Stamford to have it for other purposes, the
 fire engine shall not be disturbed." On November 11 1852 there appeared in
 the accounts a new item in the form of seven firemen’s belts at a cost of
 £1 8s, together with brass letters and numbers costing 10s.
 Another alteration in the charges was made at a meeting held on August 15
 1853, when it was agreed that £5 and expenses per engine be charged for
 all cottage property and public buildings to all persons without
 exception. It had evidently been found that repairs to the old engine
 would not repay them for the work involved, as at the same gathering it
was decided that the minute relating to this be cancelled. At this time
 there also came into being, payment for work done on presentation of an
 armlet, as it was agreed to purchase 240 straps to be " worn on the arm by
 all parties working at the fire. If any persons to be found without his
 strap during the fire, to forfeit his pay." Speeding up on duty also
 became a recognised necessity; hence the offer of reward of £1 to the
 first horse arriving at the fire, 15s for all other shaft horses and 7s
 for all chain horses.
 The next record of a fire appears in the form of a payment on August 12
 1853 for firemen at the outbreak at the premises of Messrs JH Lawton Bros
 and again on September 18 for "allowances" at a fire at New Earth Mills.
 At the latter conflagration 139 pumpers were engaged at 1s each. On
 January 12 1854 the sum of £4 14s 6d was paid for a fire at Thornley Brook
 Mill, 31 pumpers being engaged on this occasion. On March 3 1854, £15 was
 paid for 200 arm plates, and on this receipt there appears for the first
 time a stamp. On November 22 1854 there was received from Messrs Shaw and Andrews £3 19s, including £2 for the use of the engine, 17s 6d for the
 allowance of seven men, 6d representing toll for the engine, 1s for
 ringing the bell and £1 for a horse for drawing the engine. Though the
 alarm was given it was not deemed necessary to bring the engine into use
 on that occasion.


Chapter III


Though in 1852 it was decided to purchase two new engines, and one was actually obtained, as has been shown, the second was not paid for until September 11, 1855. At a meeting held on January 15 in that year, it was decided that 4s 6d per horse be levied, presumably with the object of defraying the cost of the new engine. It was further resolved that the entrance fee be 4s 6d per horsepower. Mr John Schofield having resigned from the committee, Mr John Ogden was appointed in his place. On September 19 it is recorded that “the old engine having unexpectedly fallen again into the hands of the subscribers, the committee are hereby authorised to dispose of it to the best advantage.” On November 14 another 2s per horsepower was levied for immediate collection. Once more the rates to be charged were under review, and the decision arrived at was that the subscribers should pay for the use of each engine and the brigade, £10, and all other expenses, but if the engine was called out and not used the expenses be paid. In the case of non-subscribers the user fee was fixed at £15 for the engine, £1 15s for the brigade, and all other expenses.




Second New Engine


The second of the new engines was purchased from the assignees of Messrs Barton & Co., whose description of it was “Improved fire engine, double acting, with gun metal pumps, 7 inch diameter, folding arms, tub, poles, shaft, 2 branches, 4 nozzles, 12 bright hose keys, 3 lengths leather hose with union joints, 4 bright suction keys, copper rose, complete £115.” At the same time there were purchased for £7 two six feet lengths of 3-inch leather suction pipes with brass couplings.  The extra engine meant the doubling of the brigade members, but the only record appears in the accounts, when on December 29 1855, fourteen firemen received an allowance compared with seven on November 25.

The use of helmets at Lees first became recognised on December 22, 1856, when 14 were purchased for the firemen who were also granted £1 out of the funds as a Christmas present. Efforts were also made to secure payment of subscribers’ arrears, and to obtain new subscribers. Other records of fires traceable through the accounts show that 39 pumpers and seven firemen were paid on August 31 1855, for attendance at the premises of Messrs JH Lawton Bros.; 14 firemen for attendance at Thornley Brook on March 29 1856; 14 firemen and 259 pumpers at Mr Peter Sevilles fire on December 17 1856, the cost to Mr Seville being £33 2s; 14 firemen and 133 pumpers at New Earth Mill on January 2 1857. On April 251857 there was received from the sale of the old fire engine, the sum of £14. Some 15 months earlier new pipes had cost the subscribers £31 12s. These expenditures show there was no desire to cramp efficiency for the lack of the necessary expenditure. Reference has been made to the proposal to connect gas with the engine house, and on September 16 1856, the installation of a two-light meter cost £1 2s. On January 22 1857 they paid Oldham Corporation £2 4s 6d for fittings together with the charge for 200 feet of gas at 5s 2d per 1000 (1s), less discount at the rate of 8d per 1000 for payment within a month.


Bonus To Subscribers


Another levy, this time for 1s 6d per horse power was made on February 10 1858, but in 1861, on January 10 there was a somewhat unusual occurrence in the shape of a bonus to subscribers to the amount of 1s 6d per horse power, this to be paid as soon as the outstanding debts were collected. The main reason for this return was undoubtedly due to a number of fires which were fruitful from the point of view of the subscribers, if not to the owners of the property concerned or the insurance companies. The increased charges made were also a material contributing factor. On March 25 1858, a fire occurred on the premises of Mr James Fielding, a non-subscriber, who paid the major portion of the expenses incurred, Mr J Lees paying a smaller share, as he was a subscriber. The interpretation to be placed on this outbreak from the financial records seems to be that adjoining buildings were involved at the same time and therefore both owners became liable. Two engines were used and as a non-subscriber, Mr Fielding was debited with £30. Fifty per cent extra was allowed to the pumpers and water carriers and for some time subsequently the payment for these duties varied from 1s to 1s 6d. On this occasion 253 were engaged which involved the addition of £1819s 6d to the bill of costs. The sum of £3 10s covered the allowance of 5s to each of the 14 firemen, while the bellringer got 2s 6d. For the first time beer came into the accounts, and for this lubrication of the sinews the charge was £2 2s 4d. In view of the charges prevailing today, it may be of interest to note that the sum mentioned was made up of two accounts. In one Bethel Pogson charged the brigade 17s 4d for having supplied “52 quarts of ale at 4d”. The other shows that WL Beadnell charged £15s 31/2d made up as follows – 50 quarts of ale, 16s 8d; 14 sixpennyworths, 7s; 3 sixpennyworths 1s 6d; one glass of ale 11/2d. A discount must have been made of 31/2d to bring it to the sum shown in the accounts. Mr Fieldings’ share totalled £36 9s 6d and the amount paid by Mr Lees was £13 14s 9d.

New Year Gifts To The Brigade


The committee’s gift of £1 to the firemen already alluded to, became an institution, as it was paid on January 14 1859, in the form of a New Years gift, and again on January 20 1860. On July 14 1859, a fire took place on the premises of Messrs Booth and Atkins, who, calling the engine out but not using it, had to pay only £1 17s 6d for the firemen’s allowances and the bellringer. On November 30 the same year Mr R Ogdens property became involved. He was another non-subscriber, and was called upon to pay £38 8s. Mr Ogden got off with a shilling short of the actual expenses, as he was only charged £3 15s for 75 pumpers, whereas on the contra side an additional one was entered. No doubt one of the men engaged fail to present his armlet until after the accounts had been made up, but being in possession of the sign that he had done his share, payment could not be withheld so the procrastination cost the subscribers a shilling. No beer was shown in this transaction, nor was it on the next account when Mr James Rhodes paid £38 16s on February 6 1860. On this occasion 226 pumpers, were paid 1s 6d each, the aggregate to be defrayed for this purpose amounting to £16 19s.

Messrs Thomas and Edward Ogden called out both engines on February 10 1860, but as they were not used they paid on May 2, £13 13s for the brigade standing by. On March 5 Mr James Rhodes was again to the fore, but this time he did not desire the use of the single engine and his account totalled £6 17s 6d which was settled on January 30 1861. Messrs Booth and Atkins also had a second claim upon the firemen and two engines, but as they were not requested to act they paid £1 17s 6d for the service six days later. Another abortive call for both engines was made by Mr John Ogden on June 15 1860, and on August 17 be paid £14 7s 6d a total which included £2 10s for the use of four horses. Then came two windfalls. On August 31 1860 fire broke out on the premises of Mr Charles Andrews, whose account for £41 10s settled on October 11 included £6 7s for 127 pumpers. On December 20 Messrs Wild and Barlow requisitioned both engines, but used only one and their bill for expenses totalled £30 9s 6d, paid three weeks later. Here 117 pumpers were engaged, and, as was the case at the previous outbreak, their pay was one shilling each.

All the time repairs and renewals were continually being made to the tackle, but as there was no very large expenditure at one time mention has not been called to the fact. The opening day of the year 1861 marked a fire at the premises of Messrs Cooper and Yates, and both engines were called but neither used, the bill for £12 7s 6d being paid on February 9th. Then came a rather disastrous setback. Mr Nathan Marsden had a fire on January 16 1861, both engines being worked, and 158 pumpers engaged at a cost of £7 18s. The total account Mr Marsden was called upon to meet was £43 5s 6d. Instead of receiving that amount in cash however, the brigade were credited with 14s 5d, and that not until December 9 1862. The reason was that Mr Marsden was able to pay a dividend of only fourpence in the £. Apart altogether from the allowances for the use and wear and tear of the engines, the brigade paid in hard cash £13 5s 6d, so this conflagration was extremely disastrous to them, losing as they did, £12 11s 1d to say nothing of the £30 they should have received for the using of the engines.

There was better business however on the occasion of the succeeding outbreak, which took place on the premises of Mr John Robinson, on August 24 1861, and the amount paid by that gentleman on October 9 was £39 18s 6d, including expenditure at a shilling per head for 76 pumpers. The executors of John Buckley paid £34 2s for a fire, which occurred on September 19 1861. Again both engines had been used, and the services of 168 pumpers were utilised, this time at 1s 6d per head. On March 15 in the same year the brigade purchased from Messrs Leeses and Booth 1ton 4cwt of coal at 61/2d per cwt. The cartage amounted to 4s making a total account of 17s 6d for 24cwts of coal! On June 25 they received an account for gas from Oldham Corporation, and in this was the first variation since it had been installed in the engine house. The price was reduced to 4s 10d per 1000 if paid within a month. As the brigade had used 100 feet, and paid within the stipulated period, they handed over 5d to the Corporation.


                                    Insurance Company’s Instructions


An alarm of fire at Hopkin Mill on February 2 1862, was not of a serious nature as though the engines were called out neither was brought into action, and the expenditure was £2 15s 4d. There is on record the fact that on October 8 1862, the agent for the Royal Insurance Co., wrote “that in case of fire at Wild and Barlows’ Providence Mill, the engines are ready to go at once by our order." When the accounts were audited on April 9 1863 by Messrs John Booth and JB Halliwell, the payments had overstepped the receipts to the amount of  £20 13s 4d.

April 9 1863 saw a meeting at which it was resolved to levy a rate of 1s 6d per horse power for the purpose of paying debts and meeting any further expenses while on April 10 1864, power was granted for the collection of a further shilling per horse power. Meetings subsequently were held very infrequently and the main incidents can only be followed by means of the accounts. In 1863 there were 19 subscribers responsible for an aggregate “horse power” of 741/2, so that the 1s 6d levy brought in £55 1s 6d. A fire at the premises of Messrs Samuel Shaw and Sons resulted in the calling out of the engines, which were not brought into action, and the account was settled for £13 12s 10d. In it the toll charge for the engine was shown as fourpence. Hitherto this item had always been given as sixpence. Once more Mr James Rhodes had an outbreak on November 7 1864, 114 pumpers being engaged at a shilling per head. The total sum paid for this on April 24 1866 was £27 11s.

Messrs Wild and Barlow had an outbreak on October 31 1865, one engine being called but not used and three weeks afterwards they paid £6 17s 6d for the service. On March 14 in the following year Messrs Roe & Holts premises became involved and two engines were called out but not used, the cost amounting to £2 15s being defrayed five days later.

January 1867 necessitated a double call for the brigade and engines. The fire was the occasion of a call to the premises of Mr James Rhodes and for five hours water was played upon the burning building. In all 181 pumpers were engaged, and their fees at 2s each absorbed £18 2s of the total cost of £41 4s 6d. On the 16th though the engines were called by Messrs Samuel Taylor and Son., they were not brought into action. As 1867 commenced so did it finish – with two calls in the month. There was a fire on December 20 this time at the call of Mr William Halliwell. The account of £48 15s 6d included £26 for 260 pumpers, again at 2s each and 7s for beer for the firemen. On December 30 Messrs Roe and Holt again called for the brigade, but once more their services were not actively required and the total cost to the firm was £2 7s 6d.

At a meeting held in the Lees Board Room on March 2 1868, it was resolved to purchase an additional 200 lengths of new hose. There were three fires in 1868 – at John Booths on January 10, the Union Mill on February 25 and Hopkin Mill on October 14 – but only at the Union Mill were full services required. The engines cost the firm £30 and 243 pumpers £24 6s, the total account being £59 16s 6d. This time the bill for beer amounted to 8s.


Chapter IV


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