In the first of a new series, Ed Fagan, the Museum's Operations Manager, tells us about his favourite object in the Museum: our Shand Mason steam fire engine.
My favourite object is not a secret: it’s well known that our Shand Mason steam fire engine and I get along very well together. I like the impact that it has on people. It’s big enough to be impressive out on the rally field, yet small enough that the visitor can relate to it with relative ease. When we have the engine out, we are often asked, ‘how old is it’ to which fellow keeper, Pat Langley, and I always respond by asking, ‘which bit are you looking at?’
My first experience of the engine was helping to prepare it for its annual visit from the insurance company. It immediately interested me because all the parts are familiar, yet at the same time different. It’s had a hard life compared to many a normal fire appliance. Both the Southwark and Vauxhall and Metropolitan Water Boards used it extensively as a portable pump or trench engine, as the scoring to the pump bores caused by pumping dirty water and gravel testifies. The timberwork that makes up the hose box and coachman’s seat is well worn and the panelling dates from different eras. We’re not sure why: the result of damage perhaps, or a conversion from a more ‘old fashioned’ side-loading hose box?
Our engine has quite a presence when out and about. On a rally field filled with traction engines or performing in a ceremonial role for London Fire Brigade, it always draws a crowd. And many of those that have seen it out and about have afterwards visited us at Kew and asked where to find it in the Museum.
The engine and pump is quite impressive. For many of our regular younger visitors, it has become the highlight at the end of a Grand Steam Up to play in the mist as the engine discharges 1000 litres of water from its pump tank.
But it really gets into its stride with a little extra horse power. We first horsed the engine at Fawley Hill, the home of Sir William and Lady McAlpine, in 2014 – very carefully at first. Since then we have had our engine in motion many times, with several different coachmen in charge, all of whom have treated it with reverence. Whilst attending a heavy horse event organised by Simon Powell in 2015 we could not overcome the urge to leave the showground and its soft surface and see how the engine fared on the road. I can tell you that it flew along: no squeaks or rattles, from a walk to a trot to a canter and finally two tons of steam fire engine at a gallop. That’s the surface it was designed to dash on.
I really enjoy my job, but particularly love spending time with this engine. As a result I spend quite a lot of my own time taking it out and about to promote the Museum. Arriving somewhere new is always good - our reputation precedes us - but going back, particularly to events like the Odiham Fire Show, we always receive the warmest of welcomes. The engine really is a wonderful ambassador.
The Museum’s Shand Mason steam fire engine will be on show at our Fantastic Fire Engines event in September.
|Mon 16 October Mists and mellow fruitfulness: in praise of the Museum garden - 16/10/2017 09:47:00 find out more|
|Thu 28 September Thursday 5th October - Museum Close for Private event - 28/09/2017 14:35:00 find out more|
|Thu 14 September Museum Director Vacancy - 14/09/2017 15:17:00 find out more|
|Mon 07 August A little Imagination goes a long way....... - 07/08/2017 17:04:00 find out more|
|Mon 07 August My favourite thing: Ed Fagan, Museum Operations Manager - 07/08/2017 16:44:00 find out more|
|Fri 16 June Power surge: countdown to the new Electric House - 16/06/2017 17:56:00 find out more|
|Tue 13 June Steam Heritage London Podcast - 13/06/2017 19:04:00 find out more|
|Tue 18 April Important Notice - Road Closure - 18/04/2017 12:31:00 find out more|
|Thu 13 April Easter Weekend Update - Steam Fire Engine - 13/04/2017 13:58:00 find out more|
|Mon 27 February May - Cornish Engine House Temporary Closure - 27/02/2017 10:27:00 find out more|
|Mon 06 February Our Steaming Calender in a Flash! - 06/02/2017 12:19:00 find out more|
|Tue 03 January Planned Railway Closure - 03/01/2017 13:02:00 find out more|
|Wed 21 December Best Christmas Present Ever! - 21/12/2016 08:48:00 find out more|
|Thu 08 December Road and Car Park now fully open! - 08/12/2016 11:36:00 find out more|
|Fri 25 November Important Notice - Road Closure - 25/11/2016 16:08:00 find out more|
|Mon 07 November Marketing Trustee Vacancy - 07/11/2016 12:25:00 find out more|
|Mon 31 October Important Notice for Visitors - Railway in Steam Only Until Further Notice - 31/10/2016 09:31:00 find out more|
|Tue 27 September Museum closed for private function - Tuesday 15th of November - 27/09/2016 13:42:00 find out more|
|Thu 15 September CAR PARK CLOSED 17TH & 18TH SEPTEMBER - Fantastic Fire Engines - 15/09/2016 16:57:00 find out more|
|Wed 31 August Current Issues with Online Booking System. - 31/08/2016 16:18:00 find out more|
|Mon 22 August Important Car Park Update -Monday 22nd - 22/08/2016 10:00:00 find out more|
|Sun 21 August Important Car Park Update - Today - Sunday 21st August - 21/08/2016 08:53:00 find out more|
|Tue 26 July Cornish weekend update – 30th – 31st July - 26/07/2016 11:25:00 find out more|
|Sun 10 July Peppa Event Today - Sunday 10th July - 10/07/2016 11:56:00 find out more|
|Tue 07 June Pop Up Opera – tickets are selling fast! - 07/06/2016 16:18:00 find out more|
|Wed 06 April Tickets now on sale! - Music & Magic – Friday 13th May - 06/04/2016 15:34:00 find out more|
|Tue 29 March Easter Fun at the Museum! - 29/03/2016 11:18:00 find out more|
|Fri 25 August Tickets now available – Pop-Up Opera this April! - 25/08/2017 13:24:00 find out more|
|Wed 11 November The Museum is turning 40! - 11/11/2015 13:28:00 find out more|
|Tue 24 November Hey Clay - 24/11/2015 16:43:00 find out more|
|Tue 27 October Haunted Waterworks tour postponed - 27/10/2015 16:42:00 find out more|
|Fri 16 October Ghost Hunters In This Saturday! - 16/10/2015 13:52:00 find out more|
|Fri 18 September Museum Closed - Wednesday 23rd September - 18/09/2015 17:26:00 find out more|
|Mon 14 September Sunday 27th September - Garden Festival in Association with Speak Out Hounslow - 14/09/2015 18:23:00 find out more|
|Mon 14 September Technical Fault with Email - Monday 14th September - 14/09/2015 12:30:00 find out more|
|Sun 06 September Totally Thames Festival - Bottle Relay - 06/09/2015 12:00:00 find out more|
|Fri 28 August Grand Summer Steam Up - 28/08/2015 10:00:00 find out more|
|Thu 09 July Museum Awarded Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence - 09/07/2015 18:07:00 find out more|
|Thu 09 July The People's Tower: Workshop - 09/07/2015 09:38:00 find out more|