From information obtained we know there have been three previous buildings that have been used as "fire stations" for North Walsham.
The towns old manual pump a "Newsham" (At present kept at Bressingham fire museum) was kept in a building opposite the the "Cock Public House" now the "Cockeral restaurant" The actual site of the building is buried under the car park.
The old Newsham manual appliance had to be pulled to the fire scene by hand and required 12 men to operate it effectively.These men would have to be relieved at regular intervals when they became fatigued. In addition a continuous supply of water was required for the pump provided by a bucket chain or some other arrangement.
As yet it is not clear when the "fire station" made its next move but we do know it was to the buildings adjacent to the "Urban District Council Offices" in New Road at which time it was a mechanised vehicle complete with ladder. The building only recently demolished (2000/2001) provided accomodation until 1942 when it moved to its present site (not buildings) just a stone's throw away still in New Road.
In 1942 on moving to it's present site the appliance was housed in temporary buildings which was part of the gardens of a large house named "Oak Lodge" the coach house was used as a lecture/recreation room. The temporary fire station consisted of a single storey concrete block building with an asbestos roof, the adjoining watch room was constructed of bomb proof reinforced concrete. The station continued to operate from the "temporary" accomodation untill the present station was opened in 1980.
Some "old Calls"
There are early records of notable fires in and around North Walsham, one of which was at Gunton Hall in 1884. An elderly local residents account reads as follows:-
"I remember the sky was red over Gunton and a groom rode up on one of Lady Suffield's piebald cobs to summon help. Norwich and Aylsham also sent fire pumps and jeered at the antiquated one from North Walsham, but the North Walsham men knew their old engine was the only one that could send a jet over the top.
In 1895 at about 4 a.m. the Town Hall was found to be on fire. The propreietor of the Kings Arms Public House and Livery Stables sent a lad named Jockey Elvin on the fastest horse to summon help from the local farms. The only water supply available in North Walsham at the time was from a hand pump outside the church entrance in the market place, but within half an hour, 30 water carts had assembled in the market place waiting to feed the fire pump.
On February 16th 1935, a fire broke out in a row of 3 storey terraced houses named the Butchery. The fire engine arrived with only one fireman, as the rest of the crew had travelled to Norwich to watch Norwich City play Sheffield Wednesday in the F.A. Cup at The Nest football ground. All was not lost however as a message was sent to the ground and announced over the loud speaker system requesting all North Walsham firemen to return home and attend a fire in the Butchery.
North Walsham has had an officially organised fire crew since 1883.
North Walsham Crew - 1921
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