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Appleby Fire Brigade

Maggie Clowes


Johnny Rigg and the first Firemen of Appleby.

This book tells of Brave Men in Blue Tunics with Belts and Brass Buttons, and Shining Helmets, galloping to the rescue on their two and a half ton Merryweather Fire Fighting machine with its steam driven pump, mechanic and stoker and horseman driving the tandem of noble steeds. It tells of the local militiamen who turned firemen, once the 1859 threat of invasion from Napoleon III was over and how Appleby, resistant as ever to innovation, obeyed the Fire Engines Act of 1707 and formed a Fire Brigade – 172 year later, in 1859. The book tells how they drove like the wind to fires in town and country, even as far as Shap (one hour by Fire Engine), their horses and engine out-performing Penrith’s and how their initial demo drenched several civilians and numerous dogs. It also relates how the money-cautious council submitted them to financial finaglings (no such thing could ever happen nowadays!) but undeterred the Brigade did their duty. The only memorial to them is the three-lion emblem set in stone outside the Riverside Health Centre. Their faithful Merryweather Engine (‘the Tufton’) went for scrap in 1927, without ceremony.The town would never again thrill to the sight of John Rigg on the driver’s seat, handling horses and galloping hell for leather to a fire. Today, we have brave men yet and we salute their successors, the members of the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service. Maggie Clowes, writing in memory of the late Graham Coles, has written such a book as calls us to stand up tall and salute to John Rigg and his Firefighters.


Hayloft Publishing



Publication Date:

2014 January


Paperback; 149 x 210mm




16 photographs