1940s Weekend: Formation of Neighbourhood Fire Parties

Hove Edge Wartime Fire Brigade
Hove Edge Wartime Fire Brigade

In 1940 the Ministry of Home Security decided that to combat any fires which might happen during an air raid it encouraged the formation of Neighbour Fire Parties, writes Chris Helme.

In practice every district would have groups of men who would volunteer for fire training in the use of stirrup pumps to ensure they would be ready and able to deal with any small fires caused by incendiary bombs.

The volunteers would be trained by the Brighouse Fire Brigade and then each group once suitably qualified could be issued with the stirrup hand pumps. Any outbreaks of fire reported, the volunteers would be expected to put them out in their own neighourhoods.

Up in Hove Edge on some nights children were taken outside – some may remember watching the night sky glow from the fires in the Leeds direction which could be seen over hills and beyond the Hartshead area in the night sky.

In the fields opposite the Pond public house in Spout House Lane, an area often referred to as the Rabbit Warren, the fields were littered with tall fence posts fixed into the ground and wires connecting all the posts together. This was an early form of radar and often referred to as “The Mat”.

In the same field were a few nissan huts and a few soldiers guarding the area and in the air was a barage ballon with spiked fins, a scene that fascinated the local children.

The roads were almost deserted of motor vehicles in the 1940s and what vehicles there were all had slitted metal masking over the headlights to reduce the visible light to enemy aircraft. All the bus windows were masked off as well for the same reasons and it was during this time, be it a rare sight, the first gas-buses were seen.

Failing to adhere to the blackout regulations following an instruction from the ARP warden could involved a serious reprimand from the police and, at worse, an appearance at court.

The cinemas kept open showing propaganda films and others showing Winston Churchill and Field Marshall Montgomery. There were the morale boosting films – Dig for Victory and Careless Talk Costs Lives.

This week’s featured photograph is the motorised wartime Hove Edge fire brigade. The photograph was taken in the Pond Inn car park c1940.

The fire bridge (Auxillary Fire Brigade) had its HQ in the old barn. Many readers will remember this was behind the pub.