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<< 1863 Fire Brigade Demonstration & Fete page


1875 Exhibition Photo
The Illustrated London News, 8th August 1863

The illustration showing the Fire Brigade Demonstration & Fete, held 24th July 1863. In addtition to this illustration the paper had an article (as referred to in the caption) and this has been transcribed below.


On the 24th ult. there was a public fête at Leighton Buzzard in commemoration of several recently-established fire-brigades in Beds, Bucks and Herts. The Leighton Buzzard Fire Brigade, which is in a very effective state, owes its origin and its success chiefly, we believe, to the exertions of Mr. James Young, its superintendent. Representatives were present from the brigades of Berkhampstead, Buckingham, Dunstable, Fenny Stratford, Hemel Hempstead, Newport Pagnell, Tring, Woburn, and other places. The town early assumed a holiday aspect. Triumphal arches had been thrown across the principal entrances to the town, each of which bore a welcome to the respective brigades that would pass beneath its archway of evergreens. Between ten and eleven the brigades began to arrive, and at twelve the procession started from the back way of the Plume of Feathers Inn, and proceeded down Hockliffe-street, Lake-street, North-street, High Street, as far as the railway station, and back through Church-square to the Vicarage Island, a pleasant meadow situated south of the church and adjoining the Recreation-ground. Here the horses were taken from the engines, and they remained for inspection for the afternoon. All the engines appeared in excellent condition. The was considerable variety in the style and colour of the uniforms. Red, white, and black, were the colours most prominent. Some of the brigades were furnished with helmets, and some were provided with weapons of demolition.  The order of the procession was as follows:-

Superintendent of Police, Police Constable, and Town Crier.
Beds Militia Band.
Dunstable Old Engine, 284 years old, termed the "Father of Engines."
Hemel Hempstead Pioneers.
5th Herts Rifle Corps Band.
Engines drawn by four horses and postilion.
Eight mounted pioneers.
The Berkhampstead Engine and Paid Brigade.
Van containing Volunteer Brigade.
Four mounted pioneers.
Newport Pagnell Engine and Brigade.
Seven mounted pioneers.
Fourth Beds Rifle Corps Band.
Dunstable Engine and Brigade.
Fly and pair.
Buckingham Brigade and Engine.
Mounted pioneers.
Fenny Stratford Engine and Brigade.
Twenty-five mounted pioneers.
Call messengers and turncock.
Superintendent and two others.
Leighton Buzzard Engine and paid Brigade.
Volunteer Engine.
Van containing Voluntary Brigade.
Superintendent's private engine and small model engine.
Van containing Superintendent's private Brigade.

The entrance to the Vicarage Island was under another triumphal arch, bearing the motto, "Welcome to your brigades." This was surmounted by lines of poetry, composed by the foreman of the Dunstable Fire Brigade, Mr. W. H. Derbyshire. It was entitled "Hail to the fire brigades !"

In the afternoon there were a musical gala and a rural fête, and in the evening a public dinner was held in the capacious hall of the new Corn Exchange, attended by the united force of the brigades.

<< 1863 Fire Brigade Demonstration & Fete page