In 1720, a London pearl button maker named Richard Newsham invented what was then the first manually operated fire engine. The following year he was granted a patent for his ‘new water engine for the quenching and extinguishing of fires which was capable of pumping 110 gallons (500 litres) per minute in a continuous stream of water with great force.
After being manhandled to the scene of a fire, volunteers were needed to operate the levers and keep the engine supplied with water. As an incentive, a barrel of beer was placed on top of the fire engine to “encourage a greater efficiency” within the fire fighting team.
This particular exhibit was (we think) built by Hadley and Simpkin of Long Acre in approximately 1800. Little is actually known as to the provenance of this fire appliance although we have enlisted the assistance of several experts to help us with our investigations.
The appliance is now on long term loan to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Heritage Trust from the Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh.