Hendred Fire Pump
of the most treasured relics of East Hendred is 19th century village
Fire Pump which is now on a permanent display at Snells Hall (click
here for a map).
rural history enthusiasts and just curiosity visitors to the village
and to the Champs Chapel, always find it worth seeing this famous piece
The pump was purchased in 1831 by the Parish
Overseers after a series of disastrous fires in the village. One such
fire was referred to as the Great Fire of Hendred and was talked about
in the House of Commons.
The overseers had their own fire
brigade with a captain and an engineer. Pumpers and other helpers
(Bucket Men) were gathered when required.
The makers of the unit
are uncertain. It is horse drawn with shafts for one horse. Four wheels
(wooden with metal tyres) of the pump box footprint 39 inches by 100
inches and 63 inches tall, designed to pass through many domestic
doorways. The shafts add a further 93 inches.
The pump is worked by hand from both sides with a pumping team of at
least two per side.
and delivery hoses are fabricated of leather joints being riveted by
copper rivets, there were several canvas hose pipes also but only two
now are available and these are no longer usable. Further equipment
includes copper hose lance with attachments for changing spray
patterns, and coarse filter for removing detritus from the intake. Long
wooden raking tools (approximately, 15 feet) are also stored and can be
carried on the side of the pump, these are for removing thatch. There
is a collection of some 20 leather buckets.
Pumpers and Bucket
Men were issued with leather arm bands each with a numbered copper tag.
Payment would be made only to those with arm bands. Hourly rates
The method of operation was to draw the pump close to
a water supply and suck up water into the machine. It is possible to
prime the pump by pouring water into either end of the tank and this
method could be used with a bucket team if no suitable supply was
available for suction purposes.
The last time it was used in
danger was at a fire in Hendred in 1938 when the Fire Service from
Wantage needed help to get water from the local stream to their pump.
It was subsequently used post 1945 to water a new cricket pitch during
1890 when Parish Councils were formed, the pump was taken over and the
same system of operating was used. The Captain of the brigade would
report to the Council annually and was responsible for the operation,
including training and maintenance.
The Pump was housed as part
of the village pound near Champs Chapel in a specially constructed
small building of brick and corrugated iron. That shed was extended
slightly a few years after.
When the District Council became
responsible for the providing of a Fire Service, the pump was taken
over by them and moved to Wantage. There is a minute relating to
Wantage RDC stating that if Hendred required the pump they should send
horses for it. The pump stayed Wantage-based until the 1939-45 war when
it is believed it was returned to Hendred and its original home.
some stage after Nationalisation of the Fire Service, WRDC decided to
sell the building and adjoining patch of land. The successful bidder
(Mr ‘Tink’ Mulford) discovered the pump inside the
shed. Mr Peter
Mulford and some of his colleagues from the AEA Graphic Design office
fully restored the paintwork and arranged for one wheel to be repaired
at Harrison's Church Street Blacksmiths. The pump was housed in the
original building until the property was sold by the Mulford family.
They kindly donated the pump back to the Parish Council who in turn
passed it to East Hendred Heritage Trust for safe keeping.
During that time the pump was moved to temporary stores in 3 private
locations in the village.
permission was obtained on land at Snells Hall (Village Community
Centre) and the necessary work carried out to lay foundations and
electricity ducting for a suitable building. That hurdle negotiated the
big boost came from gifted materials and dedicated volunteer labour
ranging from shovelling surplus contractors soil to complex carpentry
using recycled timber donated by the Hendred Estate, much from the
demolished garages at the Eyston Arms.
The Parish Council and
the East Hendred Community Centre supported the proposal as did the
Vale of White Horse District Council.
East Hendred Heritage
Trust provided the building, giving it to East Hendred Community Centre
(which is also a village Charity, then leasing back a major portion of
the building holding the Fire Pump and a small store for 30 years.
© East Hendred Heritage Trust and Champs Chapel Museum, East
Hendred, Oxfordshire, 2005-2008.
Powered by WB.
Produced & Hosted by Ima.
Chapel Museum of East Hendred
on Sunday afternoons (April to September) from 2.30pm to 4.30pm and
every first Sunday of the month (October to March) from 2.30pm to
3.30pm. Admission - Free.