First and Last

Leafing through my 1951 copy of cabbie Hugh Pearman’s Curious London, it shows a very different city than today.

The book promises to be:

An illustrated guide to the curious things in the twenty-nine boroughs and cities that make up the county of London.

This description alone shows how much London has changed over time.

Each area appeared in alphabetical order with six photos from the area and a description for each. Under The Royal Borough of Kensington, I came across Old Court Place Fire Station.

The LFB Enthusiast website gives the following details:

Command District: Western Opened: 1904
Address: 13 Old Court Place, Kensington High Street, London W8 4PL

It also gives this caution which I heeded “Please be aware that if you plan to visit/photograph this fire station, it is located next to the Israeli Embassy and armed Police Officers patrol the area”.

Kensington Fire Station replaced an earlier station of 1871 in King Street, which was demolished to make way for the expansion of Barker’s Department Store. Fire station designs from other cities across the world were examined to achieve a solution to enable a rapid response without separating men from their families, by accommodating the single men, who crewed the first turn-out, directly above the appliance room, while married quarters were located in the rear block. The station was one of the first to incorporate sliding poles for firemen, a feature copied from American fire-fighting practice.

Hugh Pearman captions his photograph as follows:

This Fire Station in Old Court Place was the last to use horses. At one time, in its stables were kept 300, but this great number eventually dwindled two bay mares, Lucy and Nora, who on returning from their last fire about Christmas time 1921 were received in state by the chief of the L.C.C. [London County Council] who gave them sugar and carrots, served on a silver tray.

So there you have it, one of the first London fire stations to use a pole when on a shout, and the last to have a horse-drawn tender.

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