1902 Shand Mason Fire Engine


Early Commercial Vehicles1868-1919

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The earliest fire pumps were hand-drawn and operated. The 1666 Great Fire of London stimulated development of fire engines. Insurance companies founded in the 18th century attended fires with their own engines but only in buildings insured by the them and showing the company’s sign. These horse-drawn manual-pump engines needed 10 men each side to work them. In 1829 a steam-pump engine was invented by John Braithwaite, a London engineer. It had a 10-hp engine that could raise steam in 13 minutes, pump 170 gallons a minute and send a jet 90 feet high. In 1858 a Mr Shand, partner to Mr Mason built a similar engine but with a shorter wheel-base and a footplate at the rear for the boiler operator requiring 3 horses to pull it. Improvements were made and in 1886 they brought out a lighter model requiring only two horses and capable of raising steam to working pressure in 9 minutes and producing a jet to a height of 150 feet. These ‘patent variable-expansion engines’, with single or double cylinders of the type illustrated, were in production up to 1910. The boiler was kept near working temperature with a gas ring, the fire being laid with coal at the bottom and wood and paper on top. At the sound of the alarm the gas ring was inverted and the fire ignited and drawn up by a forced draught with foot bellows or chimney fans as on the St Giles engine. This machine from 1902 was a private engine on Lord Shaftesbury’s Wimborne St Giles estate in Dorset. 50 years ago it was acquired by Tom Sampson but it is not known where it is today.

Additional information

Weight 0023 kg
Dimensions 48 × 35.7 cm