On Monday we had a very successful trip to London. By driving to Milton Keynes, we got tickets costing £10 adults, £1 children day return to London with Central Zone tube thrown in. A real bargain.
We took the tube to Waterloo, and then walked past Lambeth Palace to view the old London Fire Brigade HQ and workshop – luckily hardly altered since the LFB moved to Union Street in 2007, although it is not clear what the buildings are used for now.
From there, it was a short walk to the Imperial War Museum, where most of us spent a couple of hours in the WW2 galleries, which have a great ‘Home Front’ display.
Then to the London Fire Museum itself. The building is as interesting as the collection – it started life as a fire station in the horse-drawn steam-fire-engine era, with a floor just like old stables. In fact, where the horse is harnessed up is called ‘the run’, and even today, fire engines that are in use are described as being ‘on the run’. There were hand pumps, a stean appliance, a ‘Big 4’, and a Dennis from the 1960s. They also had a Dennis Trailer Pump just a few years newer than the one we use. In fact, we saw an awful lot of kit that we still use! The other displays were in rooms in Wellington House, the former home and HQ of Eyre Massey Shaw, the Superintendent of the London Fire Engine Establishment from 1861 to 1891. The displays included paintings, equipment and photos from the 1700s right up to recent history (such as the Kings Cross fire in 1987).
We went on to have a lovely meal and beer in front of a big fire at the George Inn, Southwark, frequented by both Shakespeare and Dickens.
As it was just starting to rain at this point, we caught the tube to St Paul’s, and had a look at the National Firefighters Memorial just South of the cathedral. We saw St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, which was gutted by fire on 29th December 1941 (See wartime photos here and here, and rebuilt here). Thence back to Euston, passing through St Pancras Station and past the lovely fire station beside Euston itself.