Under Fire

Under Fire Britain's only WW2 fire service musuem. Located at the Glenn Miller Museum, Twinwood, Clapham, Beds. Open Sundays May-September. Site entry £5.

Another week gone and clearing through files continues. Printed off (and read) all the FB and ARP documents which were d...
03/05/2020

Another week gone and clearing through files continues. Printed off (and read) all the FB and ARP documents which were downloaded but never properly looked at until now. Printed, catalogued and ready to file as when and if I ever get back to the museum. 284 b/w images sorted cropped and otherwise ready to print which will start being done this afternoon.

A few more choice items acquired, including these two car badges.

Got all the badge boards properly listed up and managed to fill a couple of gaps off  fleabay. Still got all the uniform...
25/04/2020

Got all the badge boards properly listed up and managed to fill a couple of gaps off fleabay. Still got all the uniform buttons to do but will come back to that later on.

Currently going through all the photos and documents downloaded over the past couple of years from various sites plus some stuff taken myself. Over 1000 would you believe. I was able to delate a quarter of these as duplicates or already printed. The rest now sorted into some kind of order and the black and white documents now largely printed off.

Will look at the photos next. Quite a lot of black and white obviously which the laser printer can handle. The colour items will be a bit more complex due to the heavy consumption of colour inkjet cartridges. However, there is an outfit advertising on TV that will send you 6x4 prints off your originals for the price of the postage. They print adverts on the back, which is no problem to me. So I will see what batches need to be edited and made up for processing a bit later on.

Another couple of leather helmets acquired which I have just managed to fit onto the shelves.

Another couple of badge boards done and listed up. Now I'm on to the metal badges some use of brass and silver polish wa...
16/04/2020

Another couple of badge boards done and listed up. Now I'm on to the metal badges some use of brass and silver polish was necessary. Here we have a range of the many crossed axe variants, including a couple of helmet plates and a belt buckle. Works badges are next. My last estimation of a couple of hundred was only slightly optimisitic - there's 194. Should keep me busy fof another week or so.

Still indoors and work continues on the cap badge collection. Mostly mounted on cards already but a few additions and re...
11/04/2020

Still indoors and work continues on the cap badge collection. Mostly mounted on cards already but a few additions and re-arrangements done. So far the postwar local authority badges have been accessioned - about 350 including the variants. Unable to pin down some of the finer details until I can get access once more to the reference material in the Library at the museum. There are some additions to find for some of the more recent changes as I haven't checked for some years.

There is only one repro in the main collection (Wakefield) as I started collecting in the early 1970s when most types were more readily available, although acquistions were slow as my funds were more limited then. When I finish this stage there are another couple of hundred works brigade badges to update, plus a somewhat smaller range of prewar town brigades.

Now working on a combined prewar/postwar London board which of necessity does includes a number of repros, although they themselves are at least 30 years old..

Then there's all the buttons...

A brief update from the bunker. Accessioning of the medals completed, with the creation of a couple more display boards....
02/04/2020

A brief update from the bunker. Accessioning of the medals completed, with the creation of a couple more display boards. About 60 pieces in that project. A few pictured here from 1880s to the current service medal.

Now moving on to cap badges: Pre and postwar local authority, works and airfields. About 700 apparently, and I don't collect overseas stuff!. Most already mounted on basic card display boards but there will be quite a bit to sort out.

Finally got round today to installing the new BT hub that came a couple of weeks ago to handle their new version of fibre optics. One of those rare cases of something working first time straight out of the box...so far.

As a sufferer (albeit mildly) of asthma I am in one of the risk groups and will be keeping out of the way for some time....
24/03/2020

As a sufferer (albeit mildly) of asthma I am in one of the risk groups and will be keeping out of the way for some time. So "Under Fire" will definitelly not be open this year until we are safely the other side of this lot - hopefully in time for the Festival. Just have to see how events unfold. In the meantime the listing up of the badges etc that live at home is being done. I should also report that I have recently bought a light trailer pump to add to the fleet. I think it's one of the JAP engined models, but I can'be certain as it's only a couple of inches long! The pump is demountable from the trailer.

A Taylor and Barret model from WW2 it came with a couple of crew too.

Due to the recent 'orrible weather I've not bothered to venture up the A1 for the last month. Assuming no domestic disas...
09/03/2020

Due to the recent 'orrible weather I've not bothered to venture up the A1 for the last month. Assuming no domestic disasters I hope to visit the museum next week. In the meantime all the fire kit living at home has been sorted, thinned out and suitable items added to the collection. Now working on the badges and other insignia including this small selection of Salvage Corps items.

Next to do are the medals, including this one, just obtained off fleabay.

Still looking at the materials stored at home. There are a number of genuine and repro uniforms to sort through. There i...
25/02/2020

Still looking at the materials stored at home. There are a number of genuine and repro uniforms to sort through. There is also a brass plaque on the wall - can't remember where I got it. There is this one on ebay at the moment so now I know what its is. From the listing:

"A reproduction Union Fire Office arm badge in brass, the original being in silver and dating from 1714 when the business was founded.
It was the fourth oldest Insurance company in the world, they insured both buildings and goods as the badge shows the porters carrying sacks from the burning building. The activities were reorganised in 1806 when they moved to a more active fire fighting role and the porters reorganised into a fire brigade.
They were instrumental along with other Insurance companies in fighting the Royal Exchange Building fire in the 1838 and the Tooley Street blaze where James Braidwood the Superintendent of the newly formed London Fire Engine Establishment died.
The badge was produced when the Commercial Union took over the business in 1919 and used it as a marketing ploy to encourage new policy holders, they were made in Birmingham in copper and brass by Vaughton Brothers and distributed to brokers and their other insurance offices."

While stuck at home I have been finishing off the admin on the latest batch of accessioning, currently on various items ...
05/02/2020

While stuck at home I have been finishing off the admin on the latest batch of accessioning, currently on various items of vintage packaging. I seem to manage 200 items a year and here is 2019.200. The 1890s (I think) Huntley and Palmers fire brigade biscuit tin. Not in mint condition but then not everyone likes mint biscuits.

So, what progress since the last post. Didn't make it back to the site until early this month. Mannequin uniforms now br...
29/01/2020

So, what progress since the last post. Didn't make it back to the site until early this month. Mannequin uniforms now brushed and tidied up and their whte shirts washed. Even plastic figures get dirt round the neck (and they haven't been done for three years!)

The skirts, jackets and one pair of shoes have been accessioned into the collection, the others are nothing special, but more or less look the part, neither are the shirts which are old ones of mine.

Dug out a couple of boxes of books to scan some uniform pics for an enquiry, and printed off the email enquiries this year for the permanent file. I supplied details on AFS and prewar uniform, NFS appliances and home front furnishings.

Collected the gaskets for the two trailer pump engines and spent a couple of hours tidying up the odd tools and whatnot that accumulate on the workbench so there's a possibility of using it when the engine rebuild projects start up again. Need some better weather though, it's pretty bitter as I type this indoors. How come there is no international concern on global cooling?

The Land Rover boiled up on the way back - second AA Relay job in 3 months! Hope to get back on site in a couple of weeks if it is fixed by then.

At some point in the year I hope to have a go at sorting the store room.

Recovering slowly, but it will be a while yet before I can do anything in the museum building. Meantime I have done some...
08/12/2019

Recovering slowly, but it will be a while yet before I can do anything in the museum building. Meantime I have done some useful bits on the computer settting up for next year's activities. I have been invited to Crich once more (thanks Roger) so will be making an exhibition of myself with something appropriate at the Tramway Museum's 2020 WW2 Easter weekend. Don't know what yet, so I will be as surprised as anyone else when it is all set out.

There is a new pinup on the office wall that went up the last time I did manage to get there. Regular performer at the Twinwood Festival Lynda Styan is seen here modelling a 1950s nightdress at a recent photoshoot. Owned, but probably not worn, by Marilyn Monroe. Replacing a previous shot on the wall of Lynda, this one has the added advantage of her ukelele, which ties in nicely with MM.

Not been able to get back on site yet. Suffering (very painfully) with shingles which is slowly easing off after two wee...
29/11/2019

Not been able to get back on site yet. Suffering (very painfully) with shingles which is slowly easing off after two weeks. Still hard for me to move very energetically (no change there then) but sitting reading or doing bits on the computer still possible. I have produced most of the guide book for the Exhibition Room by typing text (obviously) and jiggling around with photos. I need to update some of the pictures but it is otherwise done. This means there is now a guide to the collection for each of the five areas in the main building. I will at some time get going on one for the ARP Room which is on another part of the site.

With luck I might be able to get back up there in another week or so.

Another stint last Sunday. A few bits put away, some books and photos extracted to deal with enquiries. Spent quite some...
05/11/2019

Another stint last Sunday. A few bits put away, some books and photos extracted to deal with enquiries. Spent quite some time stripping off seven ladies. OK, they're plastic, but the uniforms haven't been off for the mannequins for about three years, which does them no good. 1980s Control Operator and WW2 despatch rider, WVS lady, switchboard operator, Leading Firewoman and two watchroom firewomen. Now mostly in bits in the Exhibition Room. The uniforms are boxed back at the house awaiting a proper clean and brush up. Spent today tidying up in the top bedroom (where the reserve collection lives) as there were some new donations to add. Also measured up to make some more shelves for one of the model cabinets.

Next visit to the museum, in a day or two, to clean up and cover over in the ARP Room and Refuge Room. I have another enquiry on setting up a WW2 living room so will shortly be responding to that with additional detail on fitting it out as a refuge room.

Here's the Watchroom before the ladies undressed. I'll post the "after" picture when you're older!

Spent today at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport at their WW2 event. I was asked to show NFS Overseas Column, but only got ...
27/10/2019

Spent today at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport at their WW2 event. I was asked to show NFS Overseas Column, but only got one shot before the camera battery died. What we have here, briefly, is GviR marked blanket, wartime dated webbing and mess tins, my father's army housewife, 1939 dated knife and spoon. The 1943 dated fork is ex-ATS. Clothes brush is marked ADMY 1943, tin mug I think is 50s and the fire extinguisher on the wall behind is nothing to do with me! It was cool enough for me to be wearing the fire tunic, as well as army belt and boots and NFS beret.

The only pic I seem to have of me is this small one taken some years ago at the Fire Service College. I still had some of the kit to get together then.

Cracking weekend at Norfolk at the Fire Heritage Network AGM. Meeting held in the Wroxham Masonic Hall, which is an exte...
23/10/2019

Cracking weekend at Norfolk at the Fire Heritage Network AGM. Meeting held in the Wroxham Masonic Hall, which is an extension of the original 1943 building which was an NFS fire station. Visit to one of the country's oldest fire stations. Built 1833 in Stalham and it still houses a manual! Yes, OK, it's a museum now. Also a viewing of the Norfolk Fire Museum's appliances in storage. They have a Scammell large TrP like mine - I wonder if their one runs?

These are always enjoyable events: in good company with like minded people. I picked up a few enquiries varying from home front domestic to Victorian insignia and am now slowly working through the answers. There were a couple that came in before I went away too so quite a bit to get through.

Some useful books and photos were obtained at the event, and I got one of my FB histories signed by the author. I am fortunate to have about 200 fire and military books signed over the years - a useful extra feature to the library.

Unfortunately the Land Rover blew the top hose just past Thetford, so the last 100 miles was done courtesy of AA Relay, so quite late getting home. New part arrived today so will be sorting out new clips this evening and fitting it tomorrow. The dehumidifier is running and generating pure water at the moment to refill it, once I purchase some more of that pretty orange antifreeze.

Assuming mobility is restored I will be exhibiting on Sunday at Whitewebbs Transport Museum at their WW2 day. NFS Overseas Column has been requested and will be in attendance,that's if one man counts as a column!

A few essential jobs done today. Water drained from the Bedford HU. There is a small weep to attend to before I refill i...
11/10/2019

A few essential jobs done today. Water drained from the Bedford HU. There is a small weep to attend to before I refill it with antifreeze. Austin ATV also drained. It has been run up a few times so the water was satisfyingly grubby. Hopefully now moderately clean inside. Block drain tap was easy, but no drain tap for the radiator, just a plug. Very tricky to get at, and well rusted in. Took about 45 minutes to shift it! Now looking for a suitable drain tap to go back in - there must have been one originally.

New cork gasket cut for the side cover on the Standard light TrP, the Scammell large TrP still has to have the head unstuck. Found some Holt's Rustola at home so have given all 18 head studs a dose as a chaser to the WD40 they had last time.

Here's the Scammell sans bodywork. When it does eventually go back on I have some new brass screws for it as the old ones either broke or had very chewed head slots.

!

Next year's special exhibition is already under way. "Going Equipped" features the various breaking in tools carried on ...
03/10/2019

Next year's special exhibition is already under way. "Going Equipped" features the various breaking in tools carried on appliances in WW2 and later. Just laid out to see how it looks at this stage. Some will need cleaning and/or repainting in due course.

01/10/2019

Last open day of the year last Sunday. Quite a good crowd - steady stream of visitors, mostly in groups, all day. I had one special visitor who was in London Fire Brigade in the 1960s and had recently donated some pieces of personal kit to the collection. We had an interesting chat on the joys of using hook ladders and the old (proper?) way that training used to be given. A good end to the season.

The next day was another engineering session (thanks George) when the Standard Gwynne light trailer pump had its repaired fuel system installed and the electrics fine tuned. It failed to start, but reference to the Instruction Book showed the spark plugs were wired the opposite way round ie with No1 at the pump end, rather than the front of the engine. Suitably adjusted, it still wouldn't go, so we left to have a think to itself and had another look at the Scammel large TrP.

The magneto has been renovated and produces a good spark. The enormous cowling has been removed as well as the petrol and water tanks which all took quite a time. The head has been undone but is well stuck on Some penetrating fluid has been left to do its work until the next session, which will be beginning of next month.

I should mention that George got another of my appliances on the run last week. This is a 1958 Coventry Climax FWP, whic...
21/09/2019

I should mention that George got another of my appliances on the run last week. This is a 1958 Coventry Climax FWP, which looks old enough to be in a WW2 setting due to the grey bodywork. The electrics were seriously awry and the fire brigade who donated it couldn't get it to go. It runs now everything has been put right, and it appears to hold a vacuum too.

Strangely enough, I don't have any 4" suction in stock so further testing is on hold til I get a length, but at least it makes a noise when it runs, and yes, it does sound like a racing car engine!

This pic was taken a while ago when I was experimenting with the flash gun. Nice view of the Peterborough Volunteers woo...
20/09/2019

This pic was taken a while ago when I was experimenting with the flash gun. Nice view of the Peterborough Volunteers wooden chest. The Bedford Heavy Unit on the left and the Austin Auxiliary Towing Vehicle on the right are both in running order, thanks to the efforts this year of my friend George and the contents of his toolbox. Much remains to be done by me though.

The Standard Gwynne light trailer pump in the front currently has the electrics and fuel systems in bits for renovation so is just on the first steps towards going again. We have also had a very provisional look at the Scammell large trailer pump behind. Again, basic checks to do first before addressing the issue of the engine, seized since, apparently, at least 1985.

Here's the ARP and police posts at the Milton Keynes 1940s weekend. By way of a change, none of this is mine (yet).
03/09/2019

Here's the ARP and police posts at the Milton Keynes 1940s weekend. By way of a change, none of this is mine (yet).

Cracking weekend at Milton Keynes WW2 weekend. In excellent company: staffing Warden's Post 14 assembled from Chris Bodd...
03/09/2019

Cracking weekend at Milton Keynes WW2 weekend. In excellent company: staffing Warden's Post 14 assembled from Chris Boddington's collection. Staying for the evening, my contribution to the dinner was the table, cloth and liqueur, plus the silver candelabra. We may have been under field conditions for the weekend, but we still have our standards! Photos courtesy Clive Boddington and Amy Jones respectively.

Address

RAF Twinwood
Bedford
MK41 6AB

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