International Firefighters' Day
May 4th marks International Firefighters Day. We are lucky enough to have various beautiful films of firefighters in our archive; from test demonstrations to clips of real fires that mark historic occasions across London.
Amateur film of a display by the Borough of Heston and Isleworth Fire Brigade. Look out for the model fire engine of 1881 'Old Faithful' and the smartly dressed assistant - as well as the fantastic stunts and dexterity of the firefighters in the demonstrations.
Borough of Heston and Isleworth Fire Brigade Display
This fantastic 1911 film shows different tests and stunts from Croydon Fire Service. Look out for the hand pumped bucket/hose contraption and don't miss the surprisingly artistic final shot of rays of sunshine through the trees.
Action Call Croydon Fire Brigade
This film of the Morden and Merton Auxillary Fire Service during WWII follows a Percy Porker cartoon 'The Fireman Goes on Duty'. The amateur film records the activities of members of the local Auxiliary Fire Service, from the phoney war period until the Blitz, taking part in various exercises and drills before a re-enacted episode records the support provided by this brigade in tackling the fires during the Blitz in central London.
Merton & Morden Auxiliary Fire Service 1939-1941
The library on Ripple Road in Barking is filmed with smoke and flames coming from its roof. A raft of fire engines on Ripple Road, train water hoses on the elegant Victorian building. This oddly mesmerising film shows firefighters in action.
Barking Library Fire
Sanderson wallpaper factory had been based in Chiswick since 1879. It was destroyed in October 1928 in the largest fire Londoners had seen for years. This film shows 100s of fire fighters and 40 engines tackling the huge inferno in front of watching crowds, and also the aftermath - interior gutted, walls and roof collapsed, windows twisted out of shape. It’s said that for a week afterwards, mountains of smouldering wallpaper “glowed like a volcano”.
Topical Budget: £100,000 Damage! 1,500 Out-Of-Work!, Chiswick (1928)
A more recent example of firefighting, there's plenty of red trucks and curious onlookers as smoke rises from in-between the buildings. What stands out is the obvious lack of health and safety measures, as the public gathers closer and closer to the fire. The camera's elevated position gives us an unprecedented view of the action, although the exact location is unknown.
Fire! October 1963