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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Air Raid at Woodhall Spa

Somehow the Germans got wind of an important visitor to Woodhall Spa over the weekend of 19th and 20th July 1940, and mounted a hit-and-run air raid on the Golf Hotel where the VIP was expected.

Woodhall Spa air raid by Henry James (33)A lone bomber passed over a few times, dropping a mixture of High Explosives and Incendiary bombs. Luckily, the HE bombs did little damage to the hotel, although the incendiaries started a significant fire. The telephones were also knocked out of action. Woodhall SpaAs the fire took hold, the ARP wardens evacuated a number of people with minor injuries, but eventually concluded that two people were missing, confirmed by witnesses that they were still in the building. As luck would have it, an Army despatch rider saw what happened as he was passing, and called in to render assistance. He was sent to the local fire station to summon help, which arrived in just a few minutes.

Woodhall Spa air raid by Henry James (18)A Turntable Ladder was used as a water tower, so a big jet of water could be sent onto the burning building using a trailer pump. Other firemen got two lines from the front-mounted pump on a Fordson Pump-Escape, and directed jets of water to the seat of the fire near the front door of the hotel.

Woodhall SpaAs soon as the fire was under control, an elderly couple were found badly injured in the hotel, and were brought out on stretchers and treated before being taken to the waiting ambulance.

Once the ‘All Clear’ was sounded, a car escorted by a guard of motorcyclists pulled into the hotel. It can now be revealed that the VIP was none other than the Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill himself. Woodhall SpaHaving escaped this attempt on his life, he inspected and congratulated the hard-working firemen and civil defence staff that had so bravely fought the fire. He also gave a rousing speech to the assembled crowds, in which he said that, following the recent rescue of the BEF from Dunkirk, he expected the Battle of Britain to commence.

Woodhall Spa air raid by Henry James (29)There was another attempt on Mr Churchill’s life later that evening, when another lone bomber had engine trouble, and crashed nearby without managing to drop the bomb load. A single airman bailed out, but got caught in a tree, also near the Golf Hotel. Many people attending a dance there came out to watch the National Fire Service use the Turntable Ladder to lower the German down from the tree, while onlookers accused him of ‘bombing our chippy’. Sadly he broke his neck in the incident, and was pronounced dead at the scene, although members of the armed forces were on hand to arrest him, had he lived.

It is thought that over 50 people were involved in the air raid, including the NFS, ARP, Civil Defence, WVS, motorcyclists, medical staff, casualties and technical services.

Many thanks to: Mick Hill (Ministry of Information), Henry James, John Lee and Paul Herrmann for taking the photos. Also thanks to the Officers of the National Fire Service, without whom this would not have been possible.



Posted in 1940s Events, 7V PE, GGN802, Air Raid, Beresford Stork Trailer Pump, K2 ATV GLT676, K4 TL GXN215, London Dennis No 2 TP, Mobile Canteen | Tagged | Leave a comment

Air Raid at Kelham Island, Sheffield, this weekend

We are planning to take the Turntable Ladder (which is currently round the corner at the National Emergency Services Museum) and a trailer pump to Kelham Island Industrial Museum for their 1940s event this weekend (12/13th July).

A lone bomber drops some bombs on the factory just across the water from the museum, and the NFS respond by setting a pump into the river, and pumping water to a ground monitor, or the ladder monitor, onto the burning building opposite.

If available to take part, please contact David Moore ASAP, by phone or email to

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Particpants Briefings for Woodhall Spa

ARP and Police
Although there are several pages in this briefing, it is not all stuff that you need to know off the top of your head. Some of it is  a check list of uniform and equipment and other parts are for information about the sequence of events in the display. As with last year, if you have  a specific role to play at a specific time, this is stated in the text where your name is in bold. These are the bits that we need you to know. ARP & Police – Woodhall Spa 19.7.14

There is  a separate briefing document for the NFS crews and one for the NFS officers which combines everything (and some other bits) all in one. NFS Crews briefing – Woodhall Spa 19 7 14

Health and Safety
Please see our safety page and read the relevant sections of the NFS-AFS Risk Analysis V3.

Please let me know if you have any questions about these briefing and I will reply as soon as I can.
Dave Needham, Officer-in-Charge

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Derby Emergency Services Show cancelled 14-15 June

Sadly, the Derby Emergency Services Show is cancelled, as the grounds at Elvaston Castle are already waterlogged, with a lot more rain forecast over the next week.

That is a real shame, and completely gutting for all those who have put in so much work to organise it, and it means that the green vehicles won’t get much of a run this year.

There is a small upside, though, in that we will now be able to spend the whole weekend at the Great Central Railway 1940s weekend based at Quorn Station.

Because of space considerations, we won’t know till we get there on the Friday how much space there will be, and whether a full-scale air raid is practical. However, we certainly will be doing a small air raid, in which a young girl in the crowd just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and gets hit by a piece of shrapnel from a bomb dropped by a lone raider. If we can run a pump, we certainly will. The Turntable Ladder will be demonstrated.

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Pre-season preparations

Had a productive day today with Michael. Almost completed painting the inside of the Mobile Canteen, and then we went on to testing pumps. We inflated one of the recently acquired 2,500-gallon dams, with the intention of pumping water into it to try it out.

The Beresford initially wouldn’t start, until we noticed that the spark plugs were all removed! Drain plugs all replaced, and we eventually started it, but on two cylinders. Two plug leads were swapped, and that made it work properly again. Good suction, but it remains difficult to start when warm.

We moved on to the Coventry Climax FSM pump, but could not get that to raise any vacuum, until we found a bolt missing. It was rather inaccessible, but refitted it. Then the pipe feeding cold water to the heat exchanger came loose. Luckily, that was an easy repair. but we did not get round to pumping any water.

Posted in Beresford Stork Trailer Pump, Coventry Climax Trailer Pump, Mobile Canteen, Workshop and Restoration | Leave a comment

Display trailer nearly finished

Michael and I had a very productive weekend at the farm.

The Beresford trailer has been jetwashed, degreased and repainted, as the red paint was showing through where it had been chipped and scratched.

The front locker of the London display pump has got enough ballast in it to stop the trailer being too light at the front, and the pump has been re-assembled after I repaired the pump casing. Loads of parts painted, and then re-assembled. The rear legs bracket had been damaged, presumably by leaving a leg down and driving off, as it was twisted and a weld cracked. So I cooked it up till it glowed, and put a standpipe over the leg and pulled it straight. A neighbour welded it back up.

So now all I need to do is touch up a few specks of grey, clean and paint the wheel, put a new inner tube in the flat tyre, and fit the wooden display boards. Oh yes, and some transfers and sign-writing. What Fire Force and Station Number do we put on the side? Then we have to decide what to display in it.

Michael painted the inside of the caravan, primer on Saturday, and magnolia on Sunday – just needs a little touching up to finish off.

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Rufford Historical Bazaar – pictures from Ian Beck

Some lovely photos of WW1 firemen in action.

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Rufford Historical Bazaar

We took the K2 and Coventry Climax pump, together with the brass helmets and a manual pump to try out firefighting from the First World War period. It was a superb multi-period event including everything from the Roman Soldiers to WW2, with Crusades, Mediaeval life, Napoleonic and Great War in between.

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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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