Fire Station

The Oakington fire engine, taken in a scrap yard about 1940 after its replacement by a trailer pump operated by the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS)

Oakington fire station was situated adjacent to what is now 5 High Street, where the entrance to 7 High Street is today. The building no longer exists. Newspaper reports mention the fire engine tackling the 1865 blaze at Stocks Green that destroyed the Baptist Chapel, and also assisting at several incendiary fires in Dry Drayton in the 1850s where it was often the first engine to arrive. Indeed, a Cambridge Chronicle report of May 1850 praised William Warboys, the foreman of the engine, for his efforts.

However, by the end of the 1930s Oakington engine’s time had come. A Cambridge newspaper article of 30th November 1939 reports:

How much for an old Engine? – Fire-fighting
A survey of Parish Council fire-fighting equipment showed that Over possessed an obsolete Merryweather manual fire engine dated 1789 which with three lengths of unserviceable hose and eleven buckets was valued at £7 10s. Willingham’s 1827 manual engine with trailer tank, ladders and six 60ft lengths of hose and 20 galvanised buckets was valued at rather more – £14. Waterbeach Parish Council valued their equipment at over £48, but the Engineer said it was worth only £29. Cottenham’s was only worth £37, not the £53 the parish claimed, whilst the appliances at Caxton came in at £27 – the parish had thought £40. Other parish equipment at Horningsea was worth £3, Oakington £2 and Swavesey £6. Chesterton District Council are required under the Fire Brigades Act to compensate parishes for any equipment which is taken over. They would be informed that it was prepared to take over the equipment at the valuation price.

Oakington fire engine, 1930s. Notice the balance handle which four men would operate each side to pump the water. Traditionally, to encourage support, men were paid one shilling if they arrived in time to get a place on the handle.

Oakington fire engine

Waterbeach fire engine

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