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The Ken Ford Collection


Mr Ken A Ford was one of Netley Abbey's best Historians and Researchers.  He had lived in the village since childhood. He worked for Thornycroft's at Woolston, Southampton but on retirement, he decided to collate all the snippets of historical information about Netley Abbey he had gathered over the years into a book called, unsurprisingly "Netley Abbey Village".  The current edition was published by Kingfisher Publications in 1990.  The Book is still available at the local Libraries and I know that Bitterne Local History Society's Bookstore has copies for sale.

On his wife's death, the Ford Family passed all Ken's Collection of documents, letters, photos, "you name it, he had it" to Hound Local History Society.  The hard copy of this large collection is currently held in the History Room at Netley Abbey Station.  For further information, please look at this website's History Room menu section or contact the Society's Chairperson, Mrs Maureen Queen.

I (Brenda) offered to type up and display here a couple of the articles which appear in Ken's Book so that his research can be read and enjoyed by a wider audience.  Here is the first - "Netley Abbey Fire Brigade".  I have mixed in some bits of information from my own research [in brackets]; everything else has been taken from Mr Ford's Book and Notes.  Putting photos on this website has proved challenging to date.  I have one or two on my own website -  Please do come and have a look!



On July 7, 1902 at the Parish Council Meeting, it was proposed to form a Fire Brigade.  On August 18, rules were formulated and the following members of the Voluntary Fire Brigade were listed -

C Cook;  J Lacey; J Morse; L Mills; W Tee; T H Billet; Broomfield; I Gibbons; J Cozens; H Tuckey; H Brewer; and the Captain was C   Hammerton.

The equipment initially consisted of a portable stand pipe, 1 x 3ft 6in branch pipe, 1 hose reel and 60ft of hose and shortly after, a 500ft hose reel and hose branch pipe with nozzle and 6 hose spanners were added. 

In 1903, lamps, firemen’s belts and wall plates saying “Fireman” were purchased.

In 1904, further equipment consisting of 2 x 60ft lengths of hose, spanners, branch pipe and jet and 12 brass firemen’s helmets were added. 

In 1905, a “call boy” - John Hodder - was hired to look out for fires at Butlock’s Heath which was located about a mile or so from the Station.  He was supplied with a cape and a belt.  [Presumably he provided his own bike; otherwise giving the alarm could have taken a long time!] 

In 1906, it was agreed to purchase an additional hose and ladder.  The Council sanctioned the use of “visits for collection of the Christmas Box”.  The firemen were often to be seen going round the “more affluent” houses in the Village seeking donations for their Christmas box.

There was a goal post arrangement for drying the hoses from which a large piece of iron was hung and this was banged as loudly as possible by the first person there.  Another of the Call Boy’s duties was to cycle around the village etc notifying the firemen that they were needed.  Not unsurprisingly, the Villages often arrived at the fire before the Fire Brigade.  

In 1907, a second Call Boy was hired obviously to get a quicker call out.

[The original uniforms consisted of a brass helmet, a belt, and an axe.  The helmets only came in one size.   Perhaps only men with the same size of head as the helmet got recruited?  Then when trousers were provided, they too apparently came - yes, you’ve guessed it - only in one size!  I’m not going there.]

[In March 1908, the Captain’s house caught fire.  Luckily he knew some guys who could put it out!]

[On 21 March 1910, the Fire Brigade attended a fire at Lankester + Crook (predecessor to Spencer) in Station Road.  People were roused from their beds to get the horses out of the stables. It was at the Bakehouse and the hayricks (near where the Central Club, Station Road is now).  Woolston Fire Brigade apparently were available to help out but refused to come until their expenses were agreed!]

By 1921, Mr Morse has taken over as Captain and Mr H Shipley is Station Officer.  The Fire Brigade Hut was in New Road (between G Young, Cobbler and the allotments).  There was a smaller hut behind the first which was used as a mortuary.  

[On 23 July 1923, the Clerk reported that the Wet Drill for the purpose of testing the new hose supplied by Messrs Merryweather had not been permitted by Southampton Corporation because of the shortage of water.]

In 1924, Mr Norris had been elected Captain but resigned in December and Mr William Sharp became Captain in his place.  

In January 1932, it was reported that £18 0s 6d had been subscribed to the Fire Brigade’s Christmas Box.  During the last year of the Voluntary Fire Brigade, each man received 30/-d and 15/-d to the Call Boys.  At the local Parish Council meeting, Mr T S Phipps made each man’s money up to £2 and Mr Lowe up to £2.10s.

In January 1934, Mr Sharp advised that there was a need for some quicker method to reach outlying places quicker.  The current method of transport was “man-hauling”, trundling the equipment through the streets on a cart.  Eventually in February 1935, Southampton Town Clerk advised that the Borough Fire Brigade would attend to outbreaks in the outlying district.

On the passing of the 1938 Fire Brigade Act, Winchester Rural District Council took over all the equipment and the shed still being used in New Road.  A new Brigade was formed consisting of 6 men, later to be increased to 8 men with 2 Probationers.  Mr Sharp now became the Deputy Chief Officer.

In May 1939, eight firemen were measured for their uniform:

        A E Sharp, Deputy Chief Officer, 4 Sellwood Road, Netley Abbey;

        E Collins, Audrey Cottage, Station Road, Netley Abbey;

        E Perry, 43 Victoria Road, Netley Abbey;

        H Bowyer, “The Ferns”, New Road, Netley Abbey;

        W Carter, 56 Hunt Avenue, Netley Abbey;

        A Edwards, 35 Denzil Avenue, Netley Abbey;

        H Lowe, Victoria Club, Netley Abbey;

        J Meikle,”Trafalgar”, New Road, Netley Abbey.

    under the watchful eye of Mr D Harris Chief Officer.

In June 1939, a Bedford Tender fitted with first aid was delivered and used on the night of the blackout.  It was housed in Mr Orman’s Garage pendng erection of a new Station.

In January 1940, the Home Office supplied a Worthington-Simpson Trailer Pump and a 28 hp Wyllis Knight car was purchased and an AFS Brigade was formed with 12 men, fully equipped.

The new Fire Station was completed on 25 June 1940.  The Bedford Tender and Apex Trailer Pump were installed on the same day.  Two sheds were erected in July with the Worthington-Simpson Trailer Pump and Wyllis Knight car being installed.

Some of the other fires reported and dealt with by Netley Fire Brigade:

     - a Fire at “Niton”, Denzil Avenue, Netley Abbey on 7 January 1940.

     - a Fire call to Nightingale House, Victoria Road, Netley Abbey for a kitchen stove on fire.  It was smothered with sand.

     - on 01/12/1940, the Fire Brigade were called to the Castle Grounds to deal with 32 incendiary bombs.

     - on 06/12/1940, there was a Fire call to 32 Denzil Avenue’s chimney.  The hearth was on fire but the grate was raked out and left safe.

     - on 15/12/1940, there was a Fire Call to “The Nook” Hound Road, Netley Abbey.  The kitchen was burnt out but the rest of the house        was saved.

     - on 12/03/1941 0130h, 5 bombs dropped in theVillage, one of which demolished “The Hermitage” sadly killing Mrs Pyke.

     - on Friday, 14/03/1941 at 2300h, fire bombs were dropped on Netley Common causing a 1/4 mile of fire surrounding houses.  All houses were saved.

In December 1943, the Parish Council discussed the possibility of retaining the Fire Brigade (and Ambulance) after the War.  In 1945, Winchester RDC decided to remove the Fire Brigade from Netley.  The Parish Council wished to use the building as the Library.

[On 6 May 1949, the new Library in the former Fire Station was opened.]  

Happier Times!

On 14/04/1941, D Wozencroft was married at St Edward’s Church, Netley Abbey.  The Bedford and Wylls Tender was used to bring the Wedding Party from the Church to Jubilee Hall.  15 Firemen attended the Service and formed an archway of fire axes.

R Schofield was married at Weston Church on 24/05/1941.  11 Firemen attended with Bedford Tender and formed an archway with fire axes.