"Heroes with grimy faces" - Sir Winston Churchill

"Heroes with grimy faces" - Sir Winston Churchill

March 17, 2010

CENTRAL LINE - 2007


Photo: Daily Telegraph
On July 5, 2007, hundreds of London Underground commuters were trapped on the Central Line for two hours after a train struck "an obstacle" between Mile End and Bethnal Green, according to The Daily Telegraph. "Emergency services treated 20 people for light injuries, including five who were brought to hospital mainly as a result of suffering breathing problems because of panic attacks," the Telegraph reported.

V-1 ROCKET

Photo: www.worldwar2database.com

CIGARETTE CARDS

In the years leading up to World War Two, collecting "cigarette cards" was a popular hobby, and in 1938 tobacco companies issued a series depicting air raid precautions, according to the Midnight Watch web site.

CLERKENWELL - 1867

Photo: Metropolitan Police
"The Fenians were 19th Century Irish Nationalists organised in 1858 as the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Ireland, and in 1867 as the Clan na Gael in the US. The name derives from old Irish 'Fianna', legendary Irish warriors whose name became an Irish term for soldiers. Their activities included the Clerkenwell Bombing in 1867, in which 12 people were killed and 126 injured as the Fenians attempted to rescue two of their members." - Metropolitan Police web site

March 16, 2010

MORNING AFTER


Photo: Museum of London
"This photo was taken the morning after 10 May 1941, the night of the most severe attack of the London Blitz. Queen Street Place, Cheapside and the surrounding area were heavily damaged. Southwark Bridge lies in the distance with Three Cranes Wharf in the centre. Firemen were faced with over 2,000 fires, but low tides and over 40 fractured water mains limited their firefighting capacity. That night marked the last of the major bombing attacks on London for the next three years. Police Constables Arthur Cross and Fred Tibbs photographed the destruction of this street and across the City, as they had done throughout the Blitz."

- Museum of London web site

MUMBAI BLUES

Meantime in Mumbai: Firefighters are trading their 1930s-era London-style kits - wool, brass buttons, cork helmets (left) - for modern gear.

March 15, 2010

BATTERSEA - 2009

Photo: Sky News web site
On Dec. 16, 2009, a double-decker bus accident in Battersea injured about two dozen people. Crews from the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service provided care. Medics are dressed in yellow and green uniforms.

HAULIN' TARPS

Photo: Fire Engine Photos
London Salvage Corps DCU (damage control unit) in Tottenham in late 1970s. The vehicle carried tarpaulins and other salvage equipment. The salvage corps, operated by the insurance industry, disbanded in the 1980s. It began operations in 1866.

March 11, 2010

SHOREDITCH - 2010

Photos: BBC web site, submitted by viewers
Fire in Shoreditch, central London

On March 11, 2010, flames swept a block of buildings on Tabernacle Street in Shoreditch, and at the height of the incident 20 engines and about 100 firefighters were at the scene.

The initial alarm was received at about 4:30 a.m. and smoke was visible across central London. The fire was under control about seven hours later.

"This was a complicated fire spreading rapidly through different premises and onto a bituemin covered roof, creating huge plumes of smoke across the city and presenting very difficult firefighting conditions for the crews attending," London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said.

"This incident yet again highlights the need for our fire safety work to prevent the fire risk and disruption these incidents have on our capital,” Dobson said.

The building housed a popular club, bar and restaurant - Sosho and the East Room.

Owner Jonathan Downey told The Evening Standard: "It's like one of those smart bombs has just landed on my organisation. Floors have collapsed, some walls are in danger of collapsing. Our head office was there."

INITIAL REPORT FROM THE SCENE
04:32
F24 SHOREDITCH
20 PUMP FIRE PERSONS REPORTED, AERIALS 4
37219101
TABERNACLE STREET, EC2.
Range of buildings of 3,4,and 5 floors, 40 metres x 50 metres, 20 percent of 2nd floor, 20 percent of 3rd floor, 50 percent of roof alight, 3 jets, 1 ground monitor, 2 aerials, all breathing apparatus crews withdrawn, all persons not yet accounted for, tactical mode oscar.

March 08, 2010

WAREHOUSE FIRE

Photo: Collection of Kevin McDermott, retired London firefighter
Warehouse fire, circa 1960s or 1970s

BIG CHILL

Photo: Collection of Kevin McDermott, retired London firefighter
Winter scene, late 19th century or early 20th century

WHITEFRIARS - 1959

From left to right - Station Officer Hanslip with Firemen McDermott, Elliot and Sloman outside Whitefriars Fire Station in London, 1959

Photos: Collection of Kevin McDermott, retired London firefighter
Left to right - Firemen Smith, Collins and McDermott of the Red Watch at Whitefriars Fire Station, London, 1959.

LADDER TEST - 1932

Photo: Fox Photos via Getty Images
Aerial ladder test at the old London Fire Brigade headquarters in Southwark in 1932. The original caption read: "The new ladder can be extended to a height of 100 feet in a matter of seconds." The firefighter on the phone is most likely demonstrating the device used to communicate to top of the ladder. (It appears the ladder isn't extended.)

BUCKET BRIGADE

Image: Guildhall Library Prints Room
Firefighting at Tiverton, in the south of England, in 1617. Bucket brigades were no match for conflagrations, such as the Great Fire of London in 1666. That disaster led to the creation of organized firefighting.

March 04, 2010

LAMBETH - 1850

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR CLOSER VIEW

FRESNO STAR - 1946

On March 25, 1945, fire broke out in the engine room of the cargo ship Fresno Star at London's Royal Victoria Dock. "Firefighters wearing respirators fought their way through blazing oil to rescue seamen trapped below deck," according to a dispatch from the Australian Associated Press. The 8,000-ton vessel was operated by the Blue Star Line.

MANOR FIELDS - 1985

London Fire Brigade station officer examines ruins at Manor Fields in 1985. Eight people died in the gas explosion. (Photo: BBC)



On Jan. 10, 1985, a natural gas explosion leveled Newnham House, a three-story block of flats at the Manor Fields Estate in Putney Hill. Eight people died and dozens others were injured.

The London Fire Brigade freed a woman from the debris, the Associated Press reported. She had been trapped for several hours when firefighters heard her calls for help.

Residents called the gas company to report an odor before duisaster struck, but utility crews "arrived two minutes after the blast," according to the BBC.

During the 36-hour search, a fire brigade safety officer alerted crews to a teetering chimney that collapsed seconds later in a hail of brick and mortar, the AP reported.

"It was a split second business," said Brian Clarke, a fire brigade spokesman, quoted by the AP. "We could have had a new disaster."

Government inspectors "concluded that the explosion was caused by gas leaking into the building from a crack in a cast-iron gas main," the BBC reported.

The BBC also said police chased looters from the site and "found a collection of plastic bags stuffed with £20 notes totalling thousands of pounds, among the debris."

March 03, 2010

EAST ENDERS


German bombers set ablaze London's industrial East End to destroy docks, warehouses and factories - and demoralize working class families.

In the book "A Cockney Kid In Green Wellies," author Jim Ruston described the aftermath of an air raid:

"Fire hoses wriggled along the ground like snakes, as they were pulled from building to building. Fractured water mains spurted fountains of water high in the air. Emergency supplies had to be pumped from the Regent's canal.

"Firemen, ambulance crews, civil defence members, and the heavy rescue teams were going about their work. The smoke stung your eyes, the dust got in your mouth and the acrid smell of gas lingered in your nostrils.

"As if a vision, dad appeared. He seemed to come from nowhere out of the smoke and dust. ... His face was black, his blue overalls covered in grime, under his arm he held a helmet with the letter R for rescue painted on the front. For that is what he did throughout the Blitz. Defiant, he would never go down a shelter.

"Like most East-Enders, dad thought London exclusively his."

ON THE READY


FIREMEN ON COVER
"Picture Post was a prominent photojournalistic magazine published in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1957. It is considered a pioneering example of photojournalism and was an immediate success, selling 1,600,000 copies a week after only six months." - Wikipedia


THEN & NOW

Photo: Skyscraper City
West Hampstead Fire Station

March 02, 2010

'THE RESCUE'


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Rescue (1855) is a painting by John Everett Millais depicting a London fireman rescuing three children from a house fire, with their mother receiving them back into her arms.

Millais witnessed the death of a fireman in the course of a rescue, and decided to depict the subject. The fire brigade had only recently been transformed from private businesses dedicated to the protection of property to a public institution charged to protect life first.

Millais sought to create the correct effects of light and smoke by using a sheet of coloured glass and by burning planks of wood. This emphasis on fleeting effects of colour and light was a new departure in his art.

The painting is also notable for its startling transitions of colour, particularly the dramatic effect by which the sleeve of the mother's nightgown changes from slatey blue to pale pink. This led to much critical comment at the time.

Robyn Cooper argues that some criticism of the painting arose from the fact that it depicted a virile working class man rescuing middle class children, while their father is nowhere to be seen. The mother's opened arms seem to greet this strong new man as much as her children.