The Merryweather Fire Engine

A manually-operated vintage fire engine at the Heritage Transport Museum

By Heritage Transport Museum

Heritage Transport Musuem

Components of the Fire Pump (July 2016)Heritage Transport Museum

Origin of Fire Fighting

Built by Merryweather & Sons of London and patented in 1890, this manual fire engine on display at the museum was used at Kurdwadi Railway station in the State of Maharashtra. This station came under Great Indian Peninsular Railways now known as Central Indian Railway.

Merryweather Fire Engine - 1890 (2016-07)Heritage Transport Museum

Fire fighting has its origin in the ancient Rome in the 3rd Century. In AD 60, a group of fire fighters called 'Vigiles' was formed who introduced the use of water buckets and pumps to combat fire.

The Great London Fire in 1666 paved the way for standardized fire fighting systems. Fire engines first made their appearance in the 17th Century. These were in the form of tubs carried by runners on long poles or wheels. and water was supplied to the site by bucket brigade. The tubs functioned as the reservoir which housed a hand operated pump that allowed water to pass with force.

Merryweather Fire Engine at Museum (2016-07)Heritage Transport Museum

Fire fighting techniques began to evolve from buckets to tools and engines alongside the need for specialized training.

Around 1800 some early fire engines had manually operated pumps which were drawn by horses.

Fully Restored Merryweather Fire Pump (Apr-May 2017)Heritage Transport Museum

Merryweather and Sons was one of the leading manufacturer of fire fighting apparatus in London. In 1738 it started manufacturing fire engines.

Merryweather Fire Engine (2016-07)Heritage Transport Museum

Merryweather and Sons produced many well-built and compact engines which were used in industrial and estate brigades. The engines had a clever system of levers, pistons and air reservoirs.

Name Plate (2016-07)Heritage Transport Museum

Mechanism of a Manual Fire Engine

Pistons of the Fire Pump (July 2016)Heritage Transport Museum

Hose companies started pouring in as municipal water sources were built with very basic hydrants. It comprises of 3 lengths of suction hose and strainer. Leather hose was fitted with brass couplings. Air reservoirs produced a constant fire fighting water jet.

Pistons and Bars (July 2016)Heritage Transport Museum

These engines operated at more than 60 strokes per minute. The long bars running parallel to the body are called pumping arms and they need to be pushed up and down to operate the set of pistons.

Pistons operated through bars (July 2016)Heritage Transport Museum

Operated by 8 men it could deliver 55 gallons of water per minute up to a height of ninety feet. It was hand pulled to the site for use.

Fire Pump displayed at the Museum (July 2016)Heritage Transport Museum

The manual fire engines continued to improve until early 20th century. These types of manual small engines were in use by private brigades. The larger companies had adopted more evolved methods of combating fire which were steam operated and later motor operated engines.

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