Steam powered fire engine arrives at Blenheim Palace

Firefighters in Oxfordshire use the latest modern equipment, so onlookers might have been surprised to see a Victorian steam fire engine arriving at Blenheim Palace this week.   

The vintage machine - featured on ITV Meridian - was in fact making its homecoming, having been an emergency vehicle at the Woodstock residence in the late 1800s. It was delivered by fire crews, some wearing historic period uniforms.

Chris Wilson, from Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, explains: “We like a challenge and are proud of our heritage, so when Blenheim approached us, asking if we could help track down their steam powered machine, we couldn’t resist. The steam engine was eventually discovered in Warwickshire after we had a tipoff that its pump was stored at Nuneaton Fire Station.”

The vintage engine dates from the late 1800s and is a similar model to one kept at Rewley Road Fire Station in Oxford, which was purchased in 1886 in readiness for Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee celebrations.

At the time, this was state of the art equipment, coinciding with a new Public Health Act, which required water to be piped into cities and towns. Local authorities took the opportunity to start local fire brigades as the water supply was now readily available through ‘fire plugs’ or hydrants.

“The pump is a little dusty and could do with a polish, but overall, it’s in good condition,” says Chris. “It won’t be operational of course, but it will make a fantastic visitor attraction, adding to the wonderful heritage already on display at Blenheim Palace.”


Image: Courtesy of Blenheim Palace.

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service officers Corrin King – in vintage fire kit – with colleague Galid Goldshmidt, delivering the Victorian steam fire engine to Blenheim Palace.

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