SKELTON - IN - CLEVELAND
IN HISTORY

Skelton on Fire.


First fire brigades.

When heating was by open hearth fires, lighting by candles and water obtained only by the bucket-full from the well there must have been many house fires and no organised means to put them out.
The following reports show how the Victorian age brought in piped water, mobile fire-fighting appliances and organised brigades of firemen.

1893.
22nd September - GREAT SKELTON FIRE CAUSED BY BOYS.
A fire of an alarming nature occurred last night at Green Farm which is occupied by Mr R W Stevenson.
It is supposed two little boys about 6 years old were playing in the granary with matches.
The fire quickly spread to other outbuildings. The Skelton horse-drawn Fire Brigade were soon on the scene, but owing to an insufficient water supply was of little use.
A number of men formed a chain of buckets to the main some 100 yards away.
After 3 hours the Guisborough fire engine arrived and by this time the hydrants at Saltburn and Coatham had been turned off and a good supply of water was obtained.
The fire raged for 8 hours and destroyed the straw house, the barn,the granary, the chaff house and about 20 tons of straw.
The estimated £400 of damage is covered by insurance.

4th November - MANUAL FIRE ENGINE.
The Skelton and Brotton Board instructed the Clerk to advertise for tenders to supply a manual fire engine capable of pumping 120 gallons per minute with the necessary hose and all other appliances.

The first Skelton Fire Station at the bottom of Green Road.

1894.
3rd February - STEAM FIRE ENGINE.
The Skelton and Brotton Board decided to purchase a steam fire engine.
A committee of the Chairman, J M Gowland, T Varty, manager of Park Pit and J Snowden were appointed for the organisation of a Fire Brigade.

3rd March - FIRE ENGINE STATION OFFERED AND FIRE BRIGADE FORMED.
The Surveyor stated that Mr Wharton had offered to erect a fire engine station adjoining the steam roller house at Skelton.
The Chairman informed the Board that the Fire Brigade Committee had met and had chosen suitable persons to form a fire brigade and the names were accepted.

The Parson reported in his Parish magazine:-
Meantime, we have a new steam fire engine and a very good one it seems to be, capable, we are informed of discharging from 200 to 250 gallons of water a minute, when working at average speed.
It was brought to Skelton on Monday, July 16th, and on Friday was taken to the Castle Grounds and exhibited by Mr Harper, engineer of the makers, Messrs Merryweather.
Steam was got up in nine minutes and in another minute or two a jet of water was being discharged some 150 feet in the air. Afterwards more jets were added, so that four or more were playing at the same time.
The hose was run out from the engine as it stood by the moat to the Castle and water was thrown on the top and over all the buildings.
Great interest was felt in the display and a large number of people were present
to witness the trial.
We understand a Fire Brigade is being organised, but while we hope the members will take pains to be thoroughly efficient in the management of the apparatus and will every now and then take it out and exhibit their dexterity in its use, that their services at a real fire may rarely be required.


1895.
5th January - FIRST MEETING OF SKELTON AND BROTTON LOCAL BOARD.
Members were elected to the following:- Finance, Law and Assessment Committee, Highways, Streets and Sanitary Committee. Sewage Committee, Hospital Committee, Fire Brigade Committe.

1896.
28th April - MINUTES OF THE SKELTON CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY COMMITTEE.
A letter was read from Mr W P Robinson, Surveyor, on behalf of the Skelton and Brotton Urban District Council requesting the use of 2 of the Society's horses and a man for the Steam Fire Engine when required in case of Fire and for Brigade practices.
Resolved that we offer the Council the use of 2 horses for the sum of 7s 6d each practice and that the driver be paid by the Council.
Also that special arrangements be made in case of Fire.

1900.
26th July - HAYSTACK FIRE.
Yesterday a fire broke out in a stack of hay standing in a field near Brotton, belonging to Mr W H A Wharton of Skelton Castle.
Some children had been playing round the stack and it is supposed set it on fire.
The Skelton Fire Brigade was called out and subdued the flames with a good supply of water being obtained from the Lumpsey Mine pumping engine.

Skelton Fire Engine at Marske by Sea Church Fire.

27th November - CHIMNEY FIRE FINE.
John Harrison, a miner of North Skelton, was fined 10s 6d including costs for having his chimney on fire on the 16th.

1902.
April - Easter Sunday - MARSKE CHURCH ON FIRE -
SKELTON ENGINE ATTENDS.
A fire broke out in the tower of St Marks Church at Marske by Sea.
Skelton's horse-drawn fire engine was called out along with others from nearby towns.
Church goers who had been at prayer were shepherded out and valuables rescued before the fire was put out.
The roof was damaged beyond repair and replaced with the battlement style we see today.

1904.
20th Feb - RUSHPOOL HALL BURNT DOWN.

Skelton's Steam fire engine hosing down next day.

It had been built in 1863 to 1865, at a cost of £100,000 by the late John Bell, who with his brother Sir Lothian Bell was one of the founders of the Cleveland Iron Industry and the first to work ironstone in Skelton.
A maid was blamed for having a candle too close to the curtains in the servants quarters.
The horse-drawn fire brigades from Saltburn, Redcar, Brotton, Middlesbrough and Skelton attended.
But their hoses were not long enough to stretch from the pond to the house.
Skelton had acquired a steam powered fire engine in 1894, but presumably could not operate that night for the some reason as a photograph next day shows it in action.
A bucket-chain was formed and the efforts were watched by a crowd of spectators. The building was occupied by Mrs Margaret Bell, the 61 year old widow of John Bell,
She was an invalid, and lived there with her daughter Sybil, aged 20.
The 1901 census gives the household servants as:->br> Arthur Jennings of Sutton on Forest, the Butler, aged 28.
Catharine Williamson of Durham,the Cook, aged 38,
Eleanor Swalwell of Darlington, a maid, aged 30.

Skelton Fire Brigade, early 1900s.
Middle row, right, John R Hewling.
Front row, right, John Hewling.

Elizabeth Porritt of Skelton,a housemaid, aged 24.
Annie Pattinson of Shipley, a maid, aged 22.
Evelyn Robinson of Skelton,a kitchenmaid, aged 18.
It is said that there was no insurance on the building and Mrs Bell and her daughter moved to the South of England.

1914.
1st February - "SKELTON CASTLE ON FIRE"
This was the cry which startled many people in the Skelton and Guisborough district yesterday afternoon.
Although at one time flames did threaten the destruction of a considerable portion of the beautiful home of Mr and Mrs Wharton the results, sufficiently serious as they were, seeing that the damage must run into several hundereds of pounds, were not so alarming as they might easily have proved.
That it is so was principally due to the splendid way in which everybody worked from the owner of the residence down to the humblest helper, who willingly gave his services and to the fact that there was a very plentiful supply of water, as well as up-to-date fire extinguishing appliances close at hand.
The outbreak originated in the upper portion of the servants quarters and when it was discovered the fire had a good hold, but the alarm was quickly responded to both by the household staff, who acted with a coolness and a presence of mind which counted for much in the successful fight with the flames and by the outdoor employees of The Squire, whilst the Skelton Fire Brigade, ably led by Captain McKenzie, were early on the scene and rendered most useful serfvice in preventing the spread of the fire to the principal portion of residence.
Two rooms suffered considerable damage and several others much affected by the water, but everybody was satisfied that an outbreak was limited in the way it was.

1928.
21st February.
BLAZING BUS DRAGGED INTO THE HIGH STREET.
Going into the garage of his motor bus just after it was put away about 11.30 at night, Mr Robert Barker, bus proprietor, of High St, Skelton was startled on seeing flames shooting up from beneath the driver's seat.
Within a few minutes the whole of the vehicle was enveloped in flame.
An alarm was raised and Skelton and Brotton Urban Council's fire brigade summoned.
On account of the snow and hard frozen streets difficulty was experienced in getting the hose pipes attached to the fire hydrants.
Meanwhile the bus blazed furiously and set fire to the wooden garage.
By the aid of chains that were attached, the firemen managed to drag the blazing vehicle from the garage into Skelton High Street and it virtually burnt itself out.
Having got the steam fire engine into operation the Brigade turned their attention to the saving, if possible, of the garage and adjoining property.
A large portion of the garage roof was burnt through and, with a crash, collapsed.
Eventually the flames were subdued and nearby houses saved from destruction.

The wooden garage where the above fire occurred can be seen on the right just below where the United bus is standing outside the Institute.


Shop at 5 High St, immediately behind the two gentlemen.
1932.
6th October.
SKELTON CELLAR EXPLOSION - GROCER SEVERELY BURNED.
As Mr W A Thubron, wine, spirit, grocer and provision merchant of 5 High St, Skelton in Cleveland entered a cellar under his shop premises about noon yesterday a violent explosion occurred.
Mr Thubron was badly burned about the head, face and hands.
Assisted by Mrs Thubron he managed to scramble up the cellar steps and had to be attended by a doctor.
The force of the explosion, which was heard and felt for a great distance completely wrecked the shop front.
It blew the glass of a large window to atoms and also destroyed the framework.
Some outbuildings at the rear of the premises were demolished and windows on the first floor were broken.
A fire broke out amonghst the contents of the cellar and within 2 minutes Skelton and Brotton Urban Council's Fire Brigade, with their Fire Engine, were on the scene and under the direction of Capt Mackenzie soon overcame the outbreak.
Mr Arthur R Cranmer, Surveyor to the Council, Sergt Binks and other Police Officers gave assistance in fighting the outbreak.
Much damage was done to the premises and shop stock, all of which is covered by insurance.
As to the cause of the explosion, at first it was thought that a petrol filling station attached to the business had blown up.
Mr Cranmer expressed the opinion that gas had accumulated in the cellar and exploded as Mr Thubron entered.
It was most fortunate that the petrol tank did not become involved in the explosion or fire as it was only yesterday morning filled up.
Mr Richard Baker, assistant Clerk to the Council, had, so it is understood, a narrow escape as he moved away from the front of the premises only a few seconds before the window was blown out.
The affair caused much excitement in the village.

Skelton Fire Engine outside the old Fire Station at the bottom of Green Road.
The only person identified to date is George Judson, who ran the Royal George from 1941 to 1961, on the Left of the 4 men standing behind the water hose.
The man sitting next to the driver is almost certainly A. R. Cranmer, Surveyor to the Council, and Superintendent of the Fire Brigade at this time.
The instruction on the Station door is - 'TO CALL BRIGADE -Break glass and ring bell'
1933.
21st September.
SALTBURN LANE BUNGALOW ON FIRE - BRIGADE BREAK WINDOW.
Skelton and Brotton UDC Fire Brigade yesterday received a call to a fire in a bungalow occupied by Mr and Mrs Robert W Armstrong.
When the Brigade arrived they found the house locked up and no one at home.
Access was gained by breaking the front window. The outbreak was found in the kitchen, which was filled with dense smoke.
Fanned by the draught when the window was broken the smouldering articles burst into flames and burned fiercely.
The Brigade prevented the fire from spreading to other parts of the bungalow, but not before much damage was done to the contents of the kitchen.
Amongst other things destroyed was a valued grandfather's clock. It is thought that the fire originated with an electric cooker.
Mr T Brown, a neighbour, raised the alarm.

1935.
November.
SKELTON FIRE BRIGADE WIN THE CUP AND GET LIT UP.
Fire fighting was forgotten for an evening when the Guisborough and Skelton and Brotton Fire Brigades met for a celebration of their success in the competitions at the recent Guisborough Carnival.
In the fire brigade competitions Skelton and Brotton ran out winners and were awarded a silver cup and gold medals.
Guisborough were a good second and received silver medals.
Mr A R Cranmer, superintendent of the Skelton Brigade, presided and a very happy and convivial evening in which talk was certainly not 'shop' was enjoyed by the 30 fire-fighters.
Mr Cranmer expressed the opinion that the inhabitants of both townships had been delighted with the work carried out by the two Brigades.
The Celebration took the form of a pie supper. Contests between the 2 Brigades in Billiards and other games added to the jollity of the evening.

Burial of Herbert Ward in New Skelton Cemetery,
4th October 1937.
[Photograph and information kindly contributed by his nephew, Alan Ward.]
1937
September 30th. - DEATH OF A FIREMAN - HERBERT WARD.
Herbert Ward, aged 32, of 29 Yeoman St, Skelton was killed in Brotton High Street, While travelling on his cycle at night he tried to avoid a pedestrian and was unseated.
He was a member of the local Fire Brigade and his funeral was attended by a very large company of mourners.
The coffin, draped with the Union Jack and borne on the fire engine of the local Council, was headed by representatives of the Fire Brigades of Middlesbrough, Redcar, Marske, Saltburn, Guisborough, Loftus and Eston under Chief Officer A R Cranmer of Skelton.
The deceased's firmeman's helmet was placed on the coffin. The Rev R W Wheatley officiated at the Skelton Parish Church and at the graveside.

1938
THE FIRE BRIGADES ACT.
In force until 1941, repealed 1947. This was the primary legislation for Great Britain, excluding London, that placed responsibility for the provision of a fire

brigade onto the local authority, and away from the insurance companies.

Before 1938 there were between 1400 and 1500 small municipal fire brigades run by local councils in the UK.
In 1938 the Auxiliary Fire Service followed by the National Fire Service were formed.
The formation on the NFS would ensure uniformity in much of the basic equipment used by the country’s Fire Brigades during what was the busiest time ever in the history of the UKs Fire Service.

SKELTON FIRE ENGINE AND CREW - DATE ESTIMATED TO BE JUST BEFORE THE SECOND WORLD WAR.

Only fireman identified to date is back row far Left, George Judson, who ran the Royal George from 1941 to 1961.
[This Photograph and the letter below were kindly contributed by the Judson family, Norman, Anne and Neil of Saltburn by Sea.]

1947.
The Fire Services Act of this year became effective on the 1st of April 1948 and resulted in 148 County Council and County Borough run Fire Brigades.
Skelton was part of the North Riding area wich covered 2,116 sq. miles, with 30 Fire Stations.

1952.
31 YEARS SERVICE - "RESIGN OR BE FIRED".
Letter from the North Riding Chief Fire Officer to George Judson, which refers to a new fire station in Skelton.



William Walker who gave 30 years service for the Skelton Fire Brigade from before the Second World War.


Fireman G.N. Smallwood, on the Right, retiring after 23 years with the Skelton Fire Brigade on the 9th April 1960.
He received an inscribed clock from Leading Fireman F Berwick on behalf of the Brigade. Others are from the Left, Leading Fireman K Forbes and Station Officer I B Scott.


Skelton Fire Brigade in the 1960s.

1974
The Local Government re-organisation of this year saw the merging of Fire Brigades and the creation of the Cleveland Fire Service.

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