BARWICK VOLUNTARY FIRE SERVICE Back to the Main Historical Society page
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from The Barwicker No. 1
March 1986

A further article from Barwicker No. 86.

This was founded after the first World War by Mr. W. Crossland, Mr. Victor Cullen, Mr. F. Scargill, Mr. W. Markham, Mr. Fred Robshaw and Mr. Fred Lovett. It started off with a wooden cabinet fastened on to the high stone wall in Main Street (near the present bus shelter, and adjacent to Heaps Field). The cabinet had a small glass panel in the door, behind which was a ship's bell, later removed to the Council Offices in Scholes.

The alarm was sounded after breaking the glass. On hearing the bell, the firemen would run to the cabinet, open it with the key behind the door, and take out two 90 ft. lengths of hosepipe which were placed on a First World War Lewis gun cart, which was housed nearby. Then they proceeded to the fire on foot. They were called out many times, including when Barwick Mill was on fire after being struck by lightning and the wooden roof burnt out. They also went to fires at Gascoigne Farm and Syke House Farm.

Barwick Fire Station with two of the crew during the Second World War

After the last war broke out, a car was purchased from Mr. W. Brown the builder, for 17/10/0. Old earth toilets and ash pits behind the Black Swan public house were converted into a Fire Station. Grants were secured from the Local Authorities to buy other equipment. A trailer pump was purchased and towed by the car, driven by Mr. Fred Lovett, with a crew of four. These men did an excellent job, and were subsequently taken over by the A.F.S., and then, later in war-time, by the N.F.S. They also ran whist drives and dances in the old Miners' Welfare Institute in Chapel Lane, most of the proceeds of which were sent to Leeds Infirmary.

After the war the old Fire Station was demolished. Mr. Victor Cullen was Captain of the Fire Brigade and his untiring efforts were much appreciated by all who knew him.


The A.F.S. (Auxiliary Fire Service) formed prior to the second World War, was in the Leeds area led by regular Fire Brigade officers from Park Street, Leeds, then the main Fire Station. In August 1941 all fire services were re-organised, becoming the N.F.S. (National Fire Service).
Most of West Yorkshire was controlled from Leeds, becoming Fire Force Area 4. This was under the command of a legendary figure in the Leeds Fire Brigade, the late Jim Pilling O.B.E. who later took charge of fire-fighting in Hull during the worst of the blitz on that city.
Under the National Fire Service, Barwick, then part of Tadcaster R.D.C. was linked with Wetherby and Harrogate districts, and many more fire personnel were on a full time basis. Fortunately not many serious incidents occurred in the area, but fire crews were always available to assist in the high-risk areas, and to maintain the extensive supplementary water tanks and pipe-lines that were a feature of our towns and cities in those eventful days.

B.R.H. 1985 (Bart Hammond)
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