A social group promoting the history and amenities of Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

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Stow & District Civic Society


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Friday, 3rd April 2020


“When Life was Nasty, Brutish and Short”

By Derek Taylor

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Friday, 17th April 2020


Spring Quiz – St. Edward’s Hall

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The Stow Fire Brigade

Stow Fire Brigade just after their formation in 1875

Firemen at the wells where the brigade filled their wagon.

fire brigade 1 fire brigade 2 fire brigade 3

On 27th May 1874 a public meeting of the residents of Stow-on-the-Wold was held at the Talbot Hotel to consider the necessity for the formation of a Fire Brigade. It was decided there and then to raise funds for the purchase of a fire engine.

Following its purchase an engine house was built in the Police Station yard by Mr G Hookham at the cost of £33.


On 14th January 1875 a Brigade was formed with 20 local people volunteering as fireman with a Mr G Howman elected as Captain. The unit covered the town and neighbourhood within an 8-mile radius. Before the year was over the service had their first call out although no records of this exist. The second fire attended occurred in Lower Swell at the house of Mr Merchant 1877. A third occurred at Pebbly Hill, Bledington and a fourth in Back Walls, Stow both in 1878. By attendance at these fires the brigade reached a level of great efficiency and Captain Howman resigned on 31st May 1886 after 12 years of devoted service.


From 1876 onwards repeated efforts were made to induce the Rector, the Rev R W Hippisley to allow the brigade the use of a duplicate key for access to the church tower and for the permission to ring one of the bells as an alarm.


Characteristically, Hippisley did not refuse, but imposed conditions which the brigade committee felt unacceptable. In 1886 the Trustees of the Wesleyan Chapel allowed a rope to be attached to their and this was used until, in 1895, by the generosity of Mr P T Goodman a suitable bell was provided and hung in a specially constructed bell turret on St Edward’s Hall.


Stow Fire Brigade remains well established in a modern Fire Station in Union Street and is still manned entirely by ‘retained’ firefighters.