The Paper Trail (Heritage) Fire Brigade was formed on 2nd February 2007 when members of the South Midland District of the British Fire Services Association joined forces with the Apsley Paper Trail. The Brigade is made up of ex John Dickinson firemen, Leighton Buzzard firemen and other enthusiasts. The main purpose of the PTHFB is to maintain and run the historic fire appliances based at Frogmore Paper Mill for the benefit and enjoyment of visitors and the local community.
Both John Dickinson and The British Paper Company ran their own Private Fire Brigades up until about 1990. Dickinsons formed their Fire Brigade in 1883 with Frogmore starting theirs in 1893. Information on both Fire Brigades including photographs is available at the Paper Trail Archive which is based in the visitor centre.
Appliances at the Paper Trail
The Dennis ‘Ace’ was purchased new from Dennis Bros of Guildford in August 1938 by the British Paper Company, owners of Frogmore Mill at that time. The Ace is thought to have replaced a Horse Drawn Shand-Mason Steam Pump which had been purchased by the Mill in 1913. The Ace has had a full engine rebuild in the past two years.
The Dennis Large Trailer Pump was obtained new by John Dickinson’s Apsley Mill Fire Brigade in 1938. The Trailer Pump was re-discovered and rescued by the PTHFB in 2009. It has subsequently undergone a complete overhaul plus re-spray and pumps as well as it did in 1938.
The oldest appliance at Frogmore is the Shand-Mason twin cylinder Manual Pump. Described by Shand-Mason in their catalogue as a ‘Platform’ pump it was marketed for use at Railway Stations. Thought to have been made about 1880, this pump has had new leather piston seals fitted in the recent past and pumps well – although strong muscles are needed. The Shand-Mason has been based at Frogmore for some years but the full provenance of the pump is not known.
The Green Goddess is a recent acquisition purchased in 2009 to augment the existing appliances and increase the pumping capacity of the brigade. The Goddess has the potential to pump 900 gallons per minute. Supplied to the Auxiliary Fire Service in 1956 she has been off the run for some years, having been owned locally by an enthusiast before being purchased by the PTHFB. Three Coventry Climax featherweight pumps make up the pumping complement. One is carried on the Green Goddess as standard equipment with one as spare. The third is ex John Dickinson’s Nash Mill. The seven pumps, if drawing from open water at full capacity, can lift 3,030 gallons per minute in total.