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Coventry Volunteer Fire Brigade - Illustrated London News, Jan 4th 1862

A movement was set on foot a short time since at Coventry with a view to the establishment of a volunteer fire brigade in that city, the result being that some fifty or sixty gentlemen were quickly enrolled as members. In America the volunteer fire brigade has long been an institution of the country, and one which has been found to work well; but, so far as this country is concerned, Coventry is, we believe, the first town where the plan has been adopted. The movement was rapidly and energetically worked out to a practical issue, and a few weeks ago this well-appointed, well-disciplined, and efficient-looking body of men, attired in their new uniforms, and having in their charge the county fire-engine and the fire-escape, celebrated their inauguration by a demonstration and a public dinner.

The Coventry Volunteer Fire Brigade 1862

The members of the brigade met at their rendezvous, in Smithforde-street, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, and, in spite of a soaking rain, their movements attracted the notice and sustained the interest of hundreds of spectators. They proceeded thence to the Barrack-yard, where Mr. Stanley, of Hertford street, took a photograph of the brigade, with the object of its being transferred to the pages of this Journal. The brigade, on leaving the Barrack-yard, paraded several of the principal streets of the town, and afterwards halted in front of the premises occupied by Mr. Loveitt, at the top of Broad Gate, where, in illustration of the practice at fires, they threw a stream of water on to the roof, and brought several persons from the top story window down the "escape." The dexterous and orderly manner in which they managed both the fire-engine and the escape, under the able captaincy of Mr. Skermer, the chief of the Coventry police force, elicited the approbation of the great crowd which had assembled to witness the proceedings.

Dressed in a blue tunic of coarse woollen stuff, very much resembling a sailor's blouse, with black glazed hats or caps, not unlike regular firemen's helmets - the only feature in their uniform at all approaching ornamentation being a white Maltese cross, of somewhat similar material to the coats, on their breasts - the men looked exceedingly well; indeed, the tastefulness, simplicity and neatness of the dress were the subject of general remark. The inaugural dinner took place at the Craven Arms Hotel.

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