Practise made perfect

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Brownhills firefighters in the early 1970s train in front of the Holland Park bandstand. Striking how much their uniform resembled that of the police, in the days before modern protective clothing. Image very kindly shared by Alan Haycocks.

Alan Haycocks, a former Brownhills firefighter, posted a remarkable image on Facebook last weekend, which shows Brownhills Fire Brigade in training on the grass in front of Holland Park bandstand in Brownhills in the early 1970s.

The image is interesting for a number of reasons, and not just the fantastic representation of brave local firemen honing their skills. This is the best photo I’ve ever seen of the bandstand, now long gone, that many will remember well. It also shows, behind the fire engine, the building that was Brownhills own morgue.

Alan Haycocks said of the image:

Firemen of blue watch practicing for Staffordshire Fire Brigade annual drill competition, probably around 1972/73.

We used this spot because, somewhere on there, is a ‘dummy hydrant’ which was installed for this very purpose.

We also remained on call via radio.

These are the guys who would work so hard fighting grassfires on the Common in the hot summers of 75 and 76, when most of the area from the railway embankment on Coppice Lane the A5 completely cleared of scrub.

Of course, a task for anyone with time to kill – is the dummy hydrant still there?

This image sits well alongside recent contributions from Godfrey Hucker, also a Brownhills fireman.

Thanks to Alan for such a wonderful, evocative image – if you can add anything, please do – either by commenting here or mailing me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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4 Responses to Practise made perfect

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    A big thanks to Alan for this amazing photo. Do we know if this morgue was the first one in Brownhills..it seems modern?
    kind regards
    David

  2. aerreg says:

    hi david re the mougery in the council yard it was there many years ago at that time when i was 15 years old it was refurished i recall an angle poised lamp was installed above the slab i have recalled in humour many times when it was completed me and another youth stood watching and the electrician turned to us and said come on one you lets see if lined up right the look on my old friends face as he lay on that slab was a picture next to the mourge was the fire staition garage and next to that the ambulace garage MR SPEAKE was the driver re the fire men the days leather boots nelton cloth tunic and of course the fire mans heavy hat and heavy duty hose and branch grass fires beeten out with a heavey duty brush stale to which pieces of old hose was nailed oh to to complete the picture the leather belt and axe happy days god bless

  3. Alan Haycocks. says:

    One of the things I love about this photo is the two gentlemen looking on from the foot of the bandstand. Both in flat cap, collar and tie.
    I can just imagine the the the typical Brownhills dry witty comments passing between them.
    These drills were always done at full speed, resulting in connections of hose not being made in time before water arrived. Usually resulting in a fountain of water, soaking fireman and, much hilarity amongst onlookers.

  4. oakparkrunner says:

    I remember the annual drills sub officer reg Mahon was an expert on the one man hydrant.

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