Like to try re-enacting? Interested in NFS history? Like vintage vehicles? Interested in WW2 events? Like to have a go? Then why not join us? Have a look at ‘About Us’, and get in touch. Email:

Recent videos of us in action: Woodhall Spa Air Raid (2013) by Tricky Imp, Rufford Air Raid (2013) and by Ian Beck,  Lowdham Floods 2012, Crich Tramway Museum 2012.  newsreel of the air raid at Rufford by Ian Beck. James Walker made this video at Rufford 2012 using a tiny camera attached to his person whilst he went up the ladder! Our current leaflet is here: NFS Vehicles Group recruiting with 2014 events, and has the events list on the back.

You can contact us at or call David on 0115 9664938.

We are pleased to be associated with Home Front History. Visit their website

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Tour of Nottingham Central Fire Station, and Blitz locations

Recently, a small group of us had the privilege of a tour round Nottingham Central Fire Station and the Nottingham Blitz locations where firemen and civil defence personnel lost their lives, led by David Needham, a retired senior officer of NFRS, and author of ‘Battle of the Flames‘, an account of the Blitz in Nottingham. David was also instrumental in creating the memorial to those firemen, ARP wardens, and other Civil Defence workers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

We started with a tour of the Central Fire Station in Nottingham, built in the late 1930s, when the stormclouds of war were already gathering. It was built with a huge 2-level air-raid shelter in the sandstone underneath, and was shared with the Police Force, as Nottingham was a ‘police fire service’. More recently, the shelter has been used as a training space for firefighters using Breathing Apparatus, and learning how to avoid getting lost in smoke. in a dark building.

David pointed out the remains of the ‘autostart’ system, built into the building, which automatically started the appliances, so that they were running ready for the firemen as the ‘bells went down’, but this was stopped after a vehicle was left in gear, and drove itseld out of the automatically opened doors into the street! How embarrassing.

The building has a lovely staircase, at the bottom of which are two stone lions, one awake and the other asleep, representing the start of two 12-hour shifts, replacing the 24-hour duty system, which is unthinkable now.

We saw shrapnel damage from when the University building across the road took a direct hit. We heard how on the night of ‘Moonlight Sonata’, the glow of Coventry burning could be seen from the top of the training tower, which was one of the tallest buildings in Nottingham at the time.

We walked through Nottingham, seeing where the Moot Hall took a direct hit, and where the AFS had an appliance stationed away from the fire station, to make sure that everything would not be lost if that took a hit. We saw where a single fireman went into a burning building alone and without backup, and saved the building. We had lunch in the grounds of St Mary’s church, again saved by the bravery of AFS firemen after an incendiary landed in the timber roof and got hold. We say the porch of the Lacemarket Theatre, which is all that remains after the building was destroyed. And we had a chance to reflect, and to admire the Nottinghamshire Firefighters Memorial, and look on the names of those who died. In the afternoon, we would see the very places many those people were killed.

After lunch, we went on a driving tour, taking in the Lady Bay area, which took a real pasting, despite being purely residential. Unfortunately, it was just across the river from a lot of industry. There are numerous gaps in terraced streets, with a single modern house filling the space where two or three terraced houses used to be. And there were buildings peppered with shrapnel damage.

We made our way to the corner of Edale road, and were surprised to see that the Dale Cinema had recently been demolished. Alfred Sabin, a Firewatcher for the National Fire Service had stood on that very spot on 24th July 1941, and David wrote: “On a cloudy July night bombers attacked, their target was thought to be the railway bridge on Sneinton Dale at the Edale Road junction. A number of high explosive and incendiary devices were dropped damaging the Dale Cinema, and the Edale Road School. As Alfred Sabin, a Firewatcher, took shelter in the doorway of the cinema, the blast from one of the bombs propelled the stump of a spiked railing from the school across the road. It struck him in the throat, killing him instantly”. A classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Six inches to the left or the right, and he would have been OK. Just round the corner, we saw where a mine has destroyed a whole row of terraced houses, with half the doorway arch of one still visible.

In Sneinton, we looked down an alleyway between two houses to see the entrance to an old air-raid shelter in the back garden, cut into the sandstone. David Needham was the officer in charge of an incident where 4 children were trapped by a fire in the old shelter, and two firefighters were in serious danger as their air was running out. Using his knowledge of history, and the fact that air raid shelters always had two or more entrances, on multiple levels if possible, he sent some other firemen round the back streets to the top of the cliff to look for the other entrance. A little girl asked them, “are you looking for where the smoke is coming out?”, and showed them the other entrance, an action which saved the lives of four children and two firefighters. That just shows the value of knowing your history! [NFRS take note - don't destroy everything that is not 'modern'!]

Perhaps the most poignant was seeing the locations of the two air raid shelters that took direct hits, the Dakeyne Street factory, and the Co-op bakery, where 21 and 49 people lost their lives respectively.

We finished the tour at Wilford Hill cemetery, where we saw the memorial to those who died in the Co-op bakery, and a row of graves, many of which simply bore the inscription, ‘Unidentified’.

Thank you, David, for a memorable day out.

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Training for ARP and Casualties

Last Saturday, we had a very good day, originally aimed at ARP, Police, WVS, First Aid and casualties, but in the end, only ARP and casualties, and my wife as WVS, turned up.

We started out with a hand pump that could very well have been used by ARP – to give rather more water than a stirrup pump could, and showed the difference between Dutch-rolled and normally-rolled hose.

Henry James did a bit on First Aid, and pitting on a wound dressing, and David showed us ways to use a triangular bandage.

We lowered a dummy from the TL in the Neil Robertson stretcher, and laid it out on the ground. The dummy was then replaced by a real casualty for the ARP wardens to transfer to a normal stretcher, and carry into the K2 (to simulate an ambulance).

Our resident make-up artist, Hannah, did a small demonstration of a small wound (on her little brother), and explained the possible reactions to some of the materials she uses, and hence the importance of a test on a small area of skin to see if it triggers an irritation. We discussed the possibility of getting bloodstains on valuable clothing, and ways to make sure that it never happened, in particular making sure that wounds on a casualty are positioned so that they don’t spoil the ARP warden’s overalls as the casualty is carried.

We looked at safety, and drama. How can we make the displays more realistic and dramatic. All washed down with some lovely home-made soup and loads of tea. All told, another training success. Thanks to David Needham, John Sutcliffe and Henry James for the training, and to Jan and Fran for the soup.


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Progress on the London Dennis No 2 pump

We have been gradually stripping down the pump, recovering anything that is salvageable as spares, and preparing the engine for scrap.

It is a real shame, as it looks like the engine was fully overhauled only a few working hours before being left to rot. In fact, we think it was hardly run in.

As we took it to pieces, we found an almost perfect head-gasket, all bright and shiny copper-coloured, a head that has superficial rust inside, but almost no coking up, new oil seals, fairly clean oil with no sludge in the sump at all, new pistons in wear-free bores, and a little metallic dust in the oil on the sump plug.

But the rings have well rusted onto the bores as the upper half of the cylinders have been damp and are well rusted. The valves are all rusted up, and the inside of the block water jacket is not pretty. We simply don’t need another engine – we have two working ones anyway. So once we have stripped everything that comes off, away it goes. Pistons removed and engine freed off. What looked like serious rust is superficial. The pistons are almost new – the machining marks are visible almost everywhere. They are 20 thou oversize which means this engine has probably been rebuilt twice. It has probably only run a dozen hours since the last one. And this confirms the theory that it worked hard in the Blitz. So we have decided not to scrap it. If anyone wants it get in touch.

The trailer chassis and tinware is coming on nicely – should be all painted in a few days now.

At least the trailer will have a nice retirement, having cut its youthful teeth in the London Blitz.

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Wrong fuel in a diesel car, contaminated petrol?

Whereas modern cars need to run on petrol or diesel, what happens if you put the wrong fuel in your car? You may well end up paying a vast amount to dispose of the mixture. Well, there is a solution – give it to us!

If you have put petrol into a diesel car, the car won’t run well, but worse than that, the petrol strips the injection pump of all lubrication. While it won’t kill it immediately, it may well gradually reduce its life through wear. So what do you do with say 10 gallons of 20% diesel, 80% petrol?

Our wartime fire engines will run just fine on that. They are low-compression engines, and are not as fussy as high-compression, high-tolerance modern engines. We have a supply of jerry-cans, and if you give us a call, we can usually collect the mixture free-of-charge in the Nottingham area. If you are a garage, you might like to keep these details on hand, in case a customer comes in with a wrong-fueled car.

David Moore,, 07718077584

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Just collected a London Dennis No 2 Pump

We have recently collected and started stripping down a London Dennis pump, bought as a source of spares for our other Dennis pumps.

The pump looks to be in good condition, as is the tinware and chassis, but the engine is seized, having suffered copious water damage, possibly from a failed head gasket.

So the plan is to use the pump on the original 1938 Dennis trailer, as that has frost damage to the internals of its pump, and put the scrap pump on the London TP. The engine will be removed, and all the salvageable parts will be kept – carb, magneto, etc. The exhaust pipe and coolant tank will be used on the 1938 TP, which has a very unsatisfactory coolant arrangement, and no exhaust.

That will leave a trailer with very good tinware and a good chassis, wheels and brakes, and a cosmetic pump. The next stage will be to put a plywood ‘floor’ where the engine was to use as a display area, making it a ‘portable recruitment and display unit’. The display area will then be covered in perspex, so that nothing get damaged by rain, or disappears to the ‘light fingered’ brigade. It will be easy to tow, as it will be about 1/3 of the original weight.

The manifold (which has a bit broken of, but repairable) goes on ebay. I am keeping the carb and magneto, and the petrol tank is spoken for. If anyone wants any other engine parts, please contact me.


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Hatfield Merryweather pump – by Brian Stephens

We have recently been contacted by Brian Stephens of South Wales who is restoring a Hatfield Merryweather trailer pump. He tells me it has a Meadows engine in it, and judging by the photos, he is well on the way with a very comprehensive restoration.

Anyway, the reason for him contacting me was to ask advice on how to operate the thing. Now all our pumps are centrifugal, but three-cylinder positive pumps are quite a different beast if you don’t know what you are doing, with the capability of bursting a hose or blowing the cover off a cylinder if the water flow is abruptly stopped. However, it shouldn’t happen if there is a pressure relief bypass valve. Also, I gather the unit has a clutch, which means you can start the engine with the pump disengaged.

So if any of you have any manuals for the Hatfield pump, or any experience with positive pumps, I am sure Brain would love to hear from you. Also, do you know what the control is in the top centre between the top two cylinders? Contact uk and we will pass it on to Brian.

You can see some of the Merryweather products here.

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Winter maintenance on Beresford and new Dennis

The starter motors of both Dennis pumps have been overhauled by Whyatt & Sons in Stapleford. A nice job at a fair price. As soon as the paint dries, we will try them out.

Meanwhile, I did source a set of Austin 8 Main Bearing shells, but failed to remove the caps at the ends. So we have just changed the top and bottom shells of the centre main bearing, which was the very worn one. Now, when the engine is turned over with a pot of oil under the oil pump, oil come out of all three main bearings in equal quantities, rather than all from the worn centre bearing.

Warning – don’t do this test at home, as it is rather messy :)

Meanwhile, John is completely overhauling the new trailer for the wartime Coventry Climax pump. He has stripped it down almost to the very last nut and bolt, and is well on the way to repainting and reassembling it. It just needs a bit of new tinwork where the metal moths had a go at the bottom of the hose troughs.

Posted in Beresford Stork Trailer Pump, Dennis No2 TA Trailer Pump | Leave a comment

Training session: Calling all ARP, Police, WVS, Medic and civilian reenactors in the East Midlands

We (the NFS officers) would like to run another event, much shorter and simpler, aimed solely at ARP wardens, Police, WVS and Casualties, and we are suggesting a Saturday half-day in March. Starting at 12:30 with soup and a roll, and finish around 4pm on Saturday 29th March.

Essentially, we are hoping to make the Air Raid scenarios that we do at 1940s events better all round – safer, more dramatic, more realistic, more historically accurate, and for this to happen, everyone who works with us needs to be more aware of what your character would have done 70 years ago.

The idea will be to run through some of the jobs that ARP wardens did, and practice them. And practice the Police/ARP interaction – the Police were officially in control, after all. Things like getting a casualty onto a stretcher and into an ambulance, evacuating casualties from a burning building, First Aid (not for real!), rescue,and discussing and planning how Police and ARP wardens work with the NFS. How the WVS can portray some of the jobs we know they did, and how it fits in with the timing of the Air Raid display. And how to bring some drama into the display. Anyone who portrays nursing as well as civilians who would like to portray a casualty would also be welcome.

We don’t have all the answers, but see it as a Mutual Improvement Class, where we can all learn from each other’s knowledge and skills.

Please let me know if you can come on Sat 29th March..

Hope to see you soon.
David, and the other NFS officers (Dave, Dave and John)

Incidentally, here are some lovely photos of two young WVS women running a canteen.

Posted in ARP, First Aid, Other Services, Police, Re-enactor info, Training, WVS | Leave a comment

Chesterfield 1940s this weekend

We are planning to take the Turntable Ladder to Chesterfield this Saturday – just for the one day. We should be outside the Museum from about 11am onwards, and weather permitting, we will do our customary inspection of the Museum roof.Michael on TL_1024x768

Posted in 1940s Events, K4 TL GXN215 | Leave a comment

Book List – contemporary books about Wartime Firefighting

FRONTLINE 1940 – 1941

Subtitle: The Official Story of the CIVIL DEFENCE of Britain
Author: Ministry of Information
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date: 1942
The official story of the “blitz” on Britain’s towns and cities. Many black and white photos. As this book was released during the war and is definitely “Propaganda”, the style of writing is very interesting.


Author: F. Eyre & E.C.R. Hadfield
Published by: Oxford University Press
Date: Unknown but the book was given as a Christmas present in 1946.
This book is part of a series called “The Pageant of Progress”. There were 17 other titles in the series and were definitely aimed at young boys. There are a number of B&W photos of equipment and fires and sections dealing with the history, training, equipment and operating methods of the N.F.S..


Subtitle: The Story of The London Fire Service 1940-41
Published by: Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. For the London County Council
Date: August 1941
A paperback pamphlet written in the same style as “Frontline 1940 – 1941”. There are many interesting B&W photos of firefighting during the “Blitz” period in London.


Subtitle: Illustrated with Paintings by Fireman Artists
Published by: Lindsay Drummond Ltd, London
Date: 1943
This pamphlet tells the story of Jim Braidy. He is a fictitious firefighter and his story is written by a number of authors. The book has a number of B&W photos of paintings done by firemen. This copy is in very delicate condition as the staples have come adrift on the spine.


Subtitle: The N.F.S. Goes into Action
Published by: Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd for the National Fire Service Benevolent Fund
Date: October 1944
This is a 12 page pamphlet that tells the story of a night raid by enemy bombers on the town of Blanktown. The book tells the story of the fire-fighting efforts during and after the raid. It is illustrated with colour drawings by Fireman Reginald Mills.
It is scanned in full here.


Subtitle: A Guide to the Statutory Orders and Regulations and the Code of Discipline
Author: J.R. Howard Roberts
Published by: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd, London
Date: 1943
This book deals with the legal formation of the NFS as well as pension rights and the Code of Discipline. It is not a legal textbook but the author has attempted to collect the orders and regulations required by NFS officers in their regular work.


Subtitle: Three Well-Informed Authoritative Writers Discuss Problems of -
Author: Air-Commodore L.E.O. Charlton, G.T. Garratt, Lieut.-Commdr. R. Fletcher, MP
Published by: Penguin Books Ltd.
Date: October 1938
This book, written pre-war discusses the dangers as seen at that time of air attack and defence. An interesting book as it shows the thinking prior to the air war over the UK.


Subtitle: A selection by Phyllis Bottome from speeches by…
Published by: Penguin
Date: 1943
A collection of speeches by 17 influential persons of the time including, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, The Archbishop of Canterbury and Franklin D Roosevelt.


Subtitle: In Relation to Fire Risk and Fire Extinction
Author: A.M. Cameron
Published by: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd, London
Date: 1933
This book, whilst not a “fire-fighting” manual would definitely be required reading for senior fire officers both before and during the war. It deals with the methods of production and the hazards associated with flammable gases, liquids and solids. A sort of very early HazChem code with explanations!!


Author: David Langdon
Published by: Methuen & Co. Ltd, London
Date: 1941
A small book with 87 pages of line sketches


Subtitle: By Land, Sea and Air
Author: W. Branch Johnson
Published by: Nisbet & Co Ltd, London
Date: 1927

Training Manuals


Subtitle: A Practical Fire Service Manual for A.F.S., Office and Factory Fire Squads A.R.P. Personnel and Householders
Author: C. Clark Ramsay
Published by: Jordan & Sons, Ltd, Chancery Lane, London
Date: 1939
A small book aimed at basic training for AFS and citizen firefighters.


Author: J. Bradbury (Bradford City Fire Brigade)
Published by: Watmoughs Limited
Date: February 1940 (First Edition) and September 1941 (Seventh Edition)


Author: V.J. Wilmoth
Published by: Lomax, Erskine & Co. Ltd. London
Date: August 1941 (Eighth Impression of Second Edition)


Author: V.J. Wilmoth
Published by: Lomax, Erskine & Co. Ltd, London
Date: January 1942 (Second Edition)


Author: The National Fire Brigades Association
Published by: National Fire Brigades Association, 28, Russell Square, London
Date: Unknown


Subtitle: For use with The Auxiliary Fire Service
Author: W.H. Barker, M.I.F.E
Published by: Sydenham & Co., Oxford Road, Bournemouth
Date: 1938


Author: R. Killey
Published by: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date: 1943 (Reprinted 1952)


Subtitle: As Applied to Fire Fighting
Author: N.R. Cotter
Published by: N.R. Cottee 10 Kitto Road, New Cross, London
Date: 1942


Subtitle: A brief work on marine fire-fighting and fire boat practice
Author: J.A Jerome and Norman Henderson
Published by:
Date: Unknown but the forward is by J. Clitherow, Fire Force Commander of No. 26 FF


Author: J.E. Potts and T.H. Harris
Published by: George Newnes Ltd, Tower House, Southampton Street, Londo
Date: 1942

HMSO Publications


Subtitle: Part 1
Published by: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date:1943 (Reprinted 1956)


Subtitle: Part 2 Appliances
Published by: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date:1944 (Reprinted 1955)


Subtitle: Part 3
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date:1943 (Reprinted 1944)


Subtitle: Part 4 Buildings-Their Construction and Internal Protection
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office


Subtitle: Part 5 Communications
Published by: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office


Subtitle: Part 6A Practical Firemanship – I
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office


Subtitle: Part 6B Practical Firemanship – II
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office


Subtitle: Part 6C Practical Firemanship – III
Published by: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office


Subtitle: Part 7 Fireboats and Ship Fires
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office


Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office


Subtitle: No.1 Personal Protection Against Gas (2nd Edition)
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date: 1938


Subtitle: No.2 Anti-Gas Precautions and First Aid for Air Raid Casualities (1st Edition)
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date: 1935


Subtitle: No.3 Medical Treatment of Gas Casualties (1st Edition)
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date: 1937 (Reprinted 1939)


Subtitle: No.14 The Fire Guards Handbook (1st Edition)
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date: 1942


Subtitle: No.1 Basic Training in Air Raid Precautions (3rd Impression)
Published by: His Majesty’s Stationary Office
Date: 1940

National Fire Service
Pump and Equipment Inventory for:
K 506A Pump, Extra Heavy – Self Propelled
K 506B Pump, Heavy Self-Propelled and Four Wheeled Trailer
K 506D Fire Boat – Fitted with Heavy Pump(s)
K 506E Pump, Large-On Trailer
K 506F Pump, Medium (Old Type) – On Trailer
K 506G Pump, Medium (New Type) – On Trailer
K 506H Pump, Light – on trailer
K 506I Water Tender
K 506J Pump, Light Portable
K 506K Pump, Two–Men Manual
K 506L Escape Carrier
K 506M Peace Time Fire-Fighting Appliances
K 506P Miscellaneous Equipment
K 506R Equipment for Fire Service Salvage Squads
K 506T Pipe Line and Ancillary Pumps and Fittings
K 506U Pump, Light-On Trailer
K 506W Turntable Ladder 60-feet, Hand Operated
K 506X Turntable Ladder 100-feet Mechanical (Home Office Type)
These noted above are copies of the official NFS form equipment list



Vol. 3 No. 56
Dated: September 17th 1940


Vol. 4 No. 89
Dated: May 16th 1941


Vol. 11 No.31
Dated: September 28th 1940

Vehicle Manuals


Subtitle: 2-Ton & 5-Ton Series K2 and K4
Author: The Austin Motor Co. Ltd
Date: November 1951


Subtitle: K2 & K4 (Series II)
Author: The Austin Motor Co. Ltd
Published by:
Date: September 1954


Subtitle: Engine (3½ Litre) & Chassis Parts List
Author: The Austin Motor Co.Ltd
Published by:
Date: January 1949

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