Middle Claydon Fire Engine

Nominated by: Nicholas Verney

In the days before national fire services, rural estates like the Claydon Estate often had their own fire engine to tackle fires on the estate and within the local community. The brigade would be made up of estate staff and volunteers from the local community.

The Middle Claydon fire engine was purchased by Sir Harry Verney in around 1860 from Shand Mason & Co of Blackfriars Road, London, for a likely cost of around £150. The engine was stored in a dedicated room of the courtyard adjacent to Claydon House along with its associated hoses, nozzles, buckets and other paraphernalia. 

There are various press reports of the fire engine being used. The Bucks Gazette and Bedford Chronicleof 28th Nov 1835 and the Bucks Herald of 23rd and 29th Nov 1835 record “Fire at Edgcott – A fire broke out on Mrs Holt’s farm, at Edgecott…Lord Chandos…went to Edgecott with his engine from Wotton, and met Sir Harry Verney there with a small engine which he had brought from his house at Claydon.  Both engines were worked well…”

An entry in the Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press on 7th July 1866 relating to a fire at North Marston reports “…the timely arrival of the fire engine from Claydon House…There was happily a good supply of water on the spot and the engine, which is nearly new, worked exceedingly well”

On 11th April 1868, the Buckingham Advertiser included an article that said: “Fire at Claydon House – a large rick of hay, standing at the back of the stabling of Claydon House…was discovered to be on fire.  The alarm was given and the engine belonging to the premises was soon in full play”

The Local Government Act of 1894 assigned responsibility for firefighting to local councils. On 4th Dec 1895, Sir Edmund Hope Verney wrote to the Chairman of Middle Claydon Parish Council asking the Parish Council to form a Fire Brigade and offering the use of Claydon’s Fire Engine and equipment and the use of the premises at Claydon where it was stored.  He also offered to pay £6 a quarter towards the expenses of the Brigade. Research suggests that the fire engine continued to be used until the late 1920s.

By the early 1980s the fire engine was in a very poor state and underwent major restoration. It is now on display within Claydon Estate’s historic courtyard and can be viewed every day the courtyard is open. For details please visit the estate’s website www.claydonestate.co.uk .

There have been Verneys in Buckinghamshire since the 1100s and the current Verney family have lived in Middle Claydon since 1620. 

The Middle Claydon Fire Engine was nominated by Nicholas Verney