Acocks Green Fire Station

 

 

There have been several fire stations in Acocks Green, although only one of those would be recognisable as such, and that was a pretty small one.

 

The first evidence we have is on Flint Green Road near the Warwick Road. At the end of the row of late 19th century houses, next to farm buildings on land owned by Yardley Great Trust, stood a very small building. It is shown in the enlarged portion of a postcard, shown below. Perhaps it had a wheeled ladder (curricle fire escape ladder) and/or a pump. It is shown on the 1904 O.S. map, but had gone by 1916.

 

The story can be traced from Edwardian times in a Hay Mills Fire Station souvenir brochure, written by Roger Wood. He explains that a Police brigade was formed in Acocks Green c. 1909. That is when the new Police Station on Yardley Road was built. We presume that this released accommodation on the Warwick Road, opposite Dudley Park Road, where the police officers had been until then. There was a pair of semi-detached houses, by 1920 numbered as 1087 and 1089, just north of Westley Brook Cottages. In number 1087 lived George Frederick Field and his family, and in number 1089 lived William Thomas Trayhern and his family.

 

The fire equipment, a 25ft. large-wheeled ladder weighing a ton, was stored in a triangular enclosure at the end of Dudley Park Road. We asked the West Midlands Fire Service Heritage Group how the fireman would use this: "The Wheeled Escape /Curricle Escape would have been used for a rescue from a Building if necessary. A storage box below the Ladder would contain a couple of lengths of Hose, Branch and a Standpipe - these would be used directly from the Mains. Hopefully a powered Pump or Steamer from another larger nearby Fire Station would not be far behind." An image of such a ladder on show at an Open Day in Manchester can be see here, and the Heritage Group have posted a picture on Twitter of a ladder and other equipment at Bromley (27th February 2022). We are very grateful for their help.

 

In 1911 Acocks Green went into Birmingham, and the city took over fire services. Whereas only one man had been in attendance beforehand, a second was apparently now required. Roger Wood writes:

 

"George Wood received his orders to move from Kenyon St. Fire Station (Birmingham City Centre) to Acocks Green. So George loaded his family (which included his wife, sons Arnie, Harry and daughter Hilda) and all their possessions onto a Horse and Cart and trundled off down the Warwick Road towards Acocks Green."

 

An inventory of the time said that Acocks Green had "1 Personnel, 1 Curricle fire Escape, 1 Large Hand Pump". (Annual Reports)

 

However, George Field found himself manning the station on his own some time after World War One. Roger Wood explains that Mr. Field had to go on parade up and down the Warwick Road every evening from 7pm to 8pm, unless inclement weather allowed Sparkbrook Fire Station to give him permission to stay indoors.

 

In late November 1921, plans were made to take over gardens at the back of the Police Station on Yardley Road. These gardens were at the rear of the block at the Alexander Road end, and were attached to houses within the block. The new Fire Station opened on the 11th November 1922, and had a motor turbine pump with ladders. Until 1926, when the Brigade bought some houses on the other side of Alexander Road, the houses on the Warwick Road continued to be used as accommodation, according to Roger Wood. Firemen were also living in the Police Station block.

 

An Auxiliary Fire Service was formed in 1937 as part of Civil Defence preparations. It and local brigades were absorbed into the National Fire Service in 1941. See below for local photographs.

 

The Field family, including the two sons mentioned above, worked at Acocks Green Fire Station for many years. A photograph of the building with its fire engine can be found below. After the Second World War directory entries for the fire station included an ambulance service office as well. The fire station closed on 22nd February 1993 and the service moved to Hay Mills Fire Station on Speedwell Road. In 1994 the Police applied to have the fire station demolished in order to provide more parking. That was withdrawn, and in 1998 there was a successful application to change its use to offices. By then there were new owners. Since then the building has been used as that type of accommodation.

 

The building is Locally listed Grade B, as follows:

 

"This was built c. 1921, replacing gardens at the back of the police station. It closed in 1993, when a new fire station at Speedwell Road opened. Red brick and buff terracotta; tile roof. Single-storey; two bays, the right hand bay set forward and containing a pair of tall, half-glazed doors set in a flat arched opening with bold keystone, all under a brick and terracotta striped gable bearing the words "Fire Station" in raised terracotta letters. The left hand bay is lower and contains a doorway and single window."

 

 

Close-up of the fire station/shed, Flint Green Road
Close-up of the fire station/shed, Flint Green Road
O.S. 1904 extract (Birmingham Libraries)
O.S. 1904 extract (Birmingham Libraries)
A flood at the Green, showing the low building to the right of the gabled building, later numbers 1087-9
A flood at the Green, showing the low building to the right of the gabled building, later numbers 1087-9
Another view of the same row, showing the enclosure at the bottom of Dudley Park Road
Another view of the same row, showing the enclosure at the bottom of Dudley Park Road
Auxiliary Fire Service, Acocks Green, c. 1940
Auxiliary Fire Service, Acocks Green, c. 1940
National Fire Service, Acocks Green, c. 1941
National Fire Service, Acocks Green, c. 1941
National Fire Service, Acocks Green, dated as 1943, and produced by the Warwick Studio, 32 Shirley Road. This photo was kindly sent to us from Michigan by Mr.  David Doss
National Fire Service, Acocks Green, dated as 1943, and produced by the Warwick Studio, 32 Shirley Road. This photo was kindly sent to us from Michigan by Mr. David Doss
Acocks Green Fire Station, 1955. The image belongs to the West Midlands Fire Service Heritage Group, and is used here with permission.
Acocks Green Fire Station, 1955. The image belongs to the West Midlands Fire Service Heritage Group, and is used here with permission.
The Fire Station after closure, c. 2000
The Fire Station after closure, c. 2000