I went to City Hall to see the London Fire Brigades 150th anniversary photo exhibition!
Whilst researching how the UK Fire Brigade has changed for women employees over the years, I stumbled upon the London Fire Brigades 150th anniversary photo exhibition. So I took a trip down to City Hall to see how the Brigade has changed for not only women, but a unit as a whole.
2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the London Fire Brigade and to celebrate, City Hall are exhibiting 28 images taken by Brigade photographers. On display are rare stills from the Brigade’s archives, revealing how ‘equipment, stations, firefighting methods and the work force’ has changed and developed since it first began in the Victorian era.
Before attending, I ensured I got permission to photograph the exhibition.
Here are some of my favourite photos from the exhibition.
“Auxiliary Fire Service firewomen, Southwark Fire Station, 1940 – Firefighters often slept at fire stations during the Blitz. Over 300 schools, garages, shops and factories were converted into substations.”
“National Fire Service recruits, Lambeth headquarters, 1941 – The fire service was nationalised in 1941 and the National Fire Service was formed. This enabled firefighters to travel to other cities to assist during the air raids of the Second World War.”
Aftermath of bombing, Oxford Street, 1940 – Auxiliary Fire Service firefighters worked alongside their regular colleagues to deal with the large number of fires.”
“Annual review, 1925 – Annual reviews were often held at venues across London and were inspected by important figures including King George V and the Prince of Wales.”
“Trainee firefighters at Lambeth headquarters, 1959 – After the war, training for new firefighters lasted for nine weeks and included drills and parades.”
“Fire engines caught in the Blitz, Whitecross Street, 1940- 7th September 1940 marked the first night of the Blitz in London. Most of the bombing happened at night and firefighters spent long hours putting out fires.”
“Brixton Fire Station, 1890 – Steam engines were more powerful and economical than the manual pumps, pumping up to 350 gallons of water per minute.”
“Smithfield Poultry Market, London, 23rd January 1958 – A major fire at Smithfield meat market started in the basement which held over 700 tons of poultry. Over 2,000 firefighters attended the fire.”
“Presentation of gallantry medals, 1936 – The first medals issued by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade were in 1877 and were presented to firefighters for acts of bravery.”
“London Fire Brigade headquarters opening ceremony, Lambeth, 1937 – Over 150 firefighters paraded for royal inspection when the new Brigade headquarters was offically opened on 21st July 1937 by King George VI.”
“Frank Bailey, 1955 – Frank Bailey was the first post-war black firefighter. he served for 10 years, originally joining the West Ham Fire Brigade.”
“Section Officer Pennington with OBE medal, 1941 – The bravery of members of the fire service in London during the Second World War was recognised with the awarding of one George Cross, 38 George Medals, one CBE, three OBEs, 13 MBEs and 118 BEMS.”
“London firefighters with their station pets, 1904 – In the Victorian era, firefighters would have lived at the fire station and had pets including dogs, cats, parrots and even monkeys.”
“Jump sheet demonstration, Lambeth headquarters, 1937 – Used for rescues, jump sheets had to be held taut in order to catch the escaping person without causing injury.”
“London Fire Brigade cadets, Haringey 2014 – The Brigade’s flagship youth engagement schemes have benefitted thousands of London’s young people.”
The free photo exhibition runs from Monday 7th November until Friday 23rd of December.