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Badsey Fire Brigade, 1899-1942

Badsey Society member, Ivor Martin, has recently given to the Society a newspaper cutting from The Evesham Journal of the 1970s.  It shows an old handcart which was once pulled by volunteers to fires in Badsey.  The cart was donated to The Almonry Museum in Evesham in the 1970s by Mrs Brazier of Badsey. It is still on display at The Almonry and may be seen next to Brazier’s builder’s cart.

Fire Brigade cart
Arthur Knott with the Badsey Fire Brigade handcart, now on display in The Almonry, © The Evesham Journal.

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The Badsey Fire Brigade was formed in 1899, when the Parish Council appointed James Barnard, William Collett, Augustine Dore, Oliver Harwood, George Jones, John Keen, William Keen, Charles Knight, John Roberts and Walter Warmington to serve as firemen.  Warmington was soon elected as captain of the brigade, to add to his many other public duties, but he did not hold this particular office for long, and resigned in September 1901. The brigade's transport consisted of a light hand truck with patent axle and brass caps, which cost £6 10s. 0d (as pictured above).  It was decided that in the case of a call to a fire in a parish outside Badsey, the charge would be £1 10s 0d for use of the equipment, plus £1 for the attendance of the firemen, up to 6 hours, then 5s per hour thereafter.  The Council also built a Fire Hut in Chapel Street, on land which had formerly been one of the parish pounds.  The alarm for fires was raised by ringing the second and third church bells.

Many references to the Fire Brigade can be found in the Parish Council's minute book and on several occasions the firemen were reported for lack of practice. However, in 1913 they were accorded a vote of thanks for their prompt turnout to a fire at the Wheatsheaf Inn, and in 1922 congratulations were again in order when the brigade attended a fire at Wickhamford. 

During the First World War, part of their equipment was lent to the Commanding Officer in charge of German prisoners of war at Badsey Manor.  On 22nd March 1918 it was noted in the Parish Council minutes:

The Captain of the Fire Brigade reported the loan to the Commanding Officer in charge of German prisoners at the Manor House of 3 lengths of fire hose, one branch pipe and nozzle, one stand pipe and key for sluices, the Commanding Officer agreeing that in the case of a fire in Badsey, the appliances shall at once be sent to the place of fire and assistance rendered to the Badsey Brigade.  The Council considered this satisfactory and agreed to the same.

The Badsey Brigade functioned as an independent body until 1942, being then absorbed into the newly-formed National Fire Service.  Richard Henry Caswell, the village blacksmith, was captain at the time.

A report in The Evesham Standard of 26th April 1947 had the headline, “Badsey Fire Brigade to Re-Form?”

Suggestions were made that the local fire brigade be re-formed and run on a voluntary basis, and it was resolved that the Council invite the local firemen to meet them and discuss the matter.

But this came to nought and, on 28th November 1949, a Parish Meeting resolved that the site of the Fire Hut, which was still parish property, should be handed over to the Parochial Church Council to form part of the churchyard extension.

Terry Sparrow (extract from A Brief History of Badsey and Aldington), with additional reporting by Maureen Spinks, January 2024