Rules for the Fire Engine

By Kathryn Betts

Photo:The Fire Engine House in Station Road

The Fire Engine House in Station Road

Photograph by Kathryn Betts, October 2011

The fire engine was operated jointly by the parishes of Melbourn and Meldreth.  It was housed in the fire engine house in Station Road, Melbourn (pictured left).  This was built by William French, a local builder, using the bricks from the cage lockup which had stood on the green at the Cross in Melbourn.  The lockup was demolished in 1847.


The following list of rules has been transcribed from a document dated 1937 which is held by Cambridgeshire Archives.  The document reference is P118/52/4.

Photo:The fire engine in Meldreth High Street, c. 1925

The fire engine in Meldreth High Street, c. 1925

Photograph supplied by Teddy Handscombe


  1. The management of the engine to be with a committee of five (three from Melbourn and two from Meldreth) to be chosen annually at the same time as the Parish Officers, but to continue in office if no fresh election is made, of which committee three shall be a quorum.
  2. The committee to appoint a Chairman who shall have a casting vote, and a Secretary who shall have the payment of all repairs connected with the engine, and call the committee together when necessary.
  3. A Chief Engineer and ten firemen to be appointed by the Committee, a list of whom, together with keys of the Engine House be kept at the Vicarage Melbourn, at Mr Flitton's House, and by the Engineer.
  4. The Committee to have power to discharge the Engineer, or any of the firemen for neglect or misconduct.
  5. The Engine shall be tried at least twice a year, that is to say in March and September, in presence of the Committee to whom due notice of the trial shall be sent by the Engineer.
  6. The Engineer to have the entire management of the Engine and to be responsible for it always being in efficient working order, and together with any of the Committee who may be present, to direct its position and working at a fire.
  7. As soon as the notice of a fire is given to the Engineer or any of the firemen, it will be their duty to go or send immediately to all the other firemen, and to the members of the Committee.
  8. The Engine is not to got to a fire without the Engineer, and if possible, one of the Committee but if the Engineer cannot go then two at least of the Committee must be present.  Four firemen besides to accompany the engine.
  9. The Engineer for the annual sum of five pounds to engage to keep the engine in good and efficient order, cleaning and taking all necessary care of it providing oil and every other acquisite, dressing the leather etc. after each time it is used, trying it at least twice in the year, paying the firemen annually at Lady Day the sum of five shillings each and attending whenever the Committee desire to inspect the engine. 
    The above does not provide for any repairs of the engine which if not chargeable to any Fire Officer, or individual, shall be provided for by the parishes jointly.
  10. Ever fireman is expected to attend if possible at every fire and always, unless he sends a substitute, at every trial of the engine and if any are absent the Engineer to report the same to the Committee who shall deal with the cases, as they think fit.
  11. In case of fire the Engineer and firemen be allowed ninepence each per hour (without refreshment) during the time they are attending with the engine.  The Engineer to have five shillings extra for every fire he attends.  These charges to be paid by the Fire Office interested, or by the owners of the property on which the fire occurs.
    Casual labourers assisting by order of the Engineer, or Committee at a fire to be allowed sixpence per hour for the time they are at work.
  12. No one to be allowed to ride on the engine to a fire under any pretence whatever except the Engineer, firemen and members of the Committee.
  13. The charge for the use of the Engine to every non-subscriber to its purchase in addition to the allowances to the Engineer and firemen, and other necessary expenses, be two guineas, the Committee having power to remit this charge, in the cases of small owners of property.  When enforced the above to form a fund out of which any improvements to the Engine may be paid or reward granted to any of the firemen at the discretion of the Committee for special meritorious conduct when on actual duty at a fire.
  14. The accounts of the Committee to be open to the inspection of the parishes at their annual meetings on Lady Day.
This page was added by Kathryn Betts on 28/10/2011.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.