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Page last updated: 24/09/2022 Sawbridgeworth Fire Brigade - Chief Officers  
Ralph Riches 1875 - 1947
Elected as the first Chief Officer (based on the above at the age of 22) on the 27th September 1897. He resigned from the brigade in April 1903 having, it seems, been elected to the local Rural District Council. The vacancy for a Chief Officer had not been filled by 11th June that year and Mr. Riches offered to resume in the position but at that General Meeting of the brigade as above, Bryan D. Nockolds was appointed. On-line research shows that Ralph had a Grocery business at 7, Knight Street, presumably that which became Forrest Stores in later years. It also appears from research that he probably took over the grocery business from his father, also Ralph, where the family lived!

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Bryan D. Nockolds 1883 - 1958
Bryan Nockolds was the son of  solicitor and became one himself the practice being based in Bishop's Stortford but he lived, initially at home, The Limes in Knight Street, then at Stone Leigh, West Road, Sawbridgeworth and was an early Chief Officer of the brigade, being elected as 'Captain'in1903 at the age of 20. He had a sporadic membership as he 'retired' as Chief Officer in 1907 on his leaving the town for Bishop's Stortford. On the 12th September that year the Brigade decided to present him with an enlarged photograph of the brigade framed in oak in recognition of his services. However, he was re-appointed as "Captain in Charge" on the 8th February 1913 on the resignation of Captain Allen. He attempted to resign, through business pressures, in November 1927 but was eventually persuaded to continue, eventually resigning through pressure of business, in September 1932. It seems that he rejoined again at the outbreak of war and remained in the brigade throughout the war years and until the latter years of the National Fire Service (NFS) as "Company Officer".

The Webmaster is indebted to the company of Solicitors that still retains the name "Nockolds" for providing the information that Bryan D. Nockolds died on the 13th July 1958.

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Captain Ralph R. Allen 1873 - 1929 (*)
Captain Ralph Allen was appointed on the 3rd October 1907 and other than a short "leave of absence" of some five months, his being engaged at the "Festival of Empire Exhibition", resigned on the 20th January 1913 owing to the pressures of his private business(#). It was at this time that Bryan Nockolds returned to the post. Captain Allen was accorded Hon. Chief Officer in which connection he could continue his supporting roles in the National Fire Brigade Union (later, Association) in which it is apparent he held several officer posts(##).
(##) The statement is extracted from the Brigade Minutes Book (1897 - 1949) but some very helpful delving into records of the National Fire Brigade Association has resolved that there is no recorded evidence of Captain Alan having "several officer posts" other than "RR Allen listed as being on the 'South Midland District' committee in 1911". "It is possible he did some organising work at District level, perhaps in the organising of the annual drill competitions that were so popular then and being made an Hon Chief would have allowed him to be a judge for the drills". (*) The photograph used is one that relates to WW1 and was kindly provided by the research of Simon Lincoln - Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue. It is assumed to be of the Sawbridgeworth Chief Officer and the uniform insignia is that of The Hertfordshire Regiment.
With appreciation to Alan House QFSM FIFire for delving into the National Fire Brigade Association historic records.
(#) Captain Allen ran, what appears to be, a substantial business operated from Sawbridgeworth, called "The Allen Poultry Co. Ltd.". Copy documents show that all manner of services and items to do with poultry rearing and feeding etc. were offered.  Captain Allen was also a lecturer for Hertfordshire County Council. He also contributed to books on Horticulture and was the author of books on Poultry subjects. He lived at No.1 Fair Green and appears as such on the 1911 Census. His death is recorded as 8th January 1929.
With grateful thanks to Alexandra Fisher, Senior Library Assistant, Cambridge University Library for supplying the information and supporting documents regarding Captain Allen's business activity.

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Richard Marven Hale Everett - 1909 - 1978

Mr. R. Marven Everett was a barrister and lived at Springhall, Vantorts Road. Having been approached to take the position of Chief Officer, he had declined on the pretext of not enough time. However, his letter, among others that had been received and who had also been approached, considered at the General Meeting on the 9th March 1933, gave the impression that he would have liked to have accepted and a deputation was arranged to visit Mr. Everett. A further meeting on the 27th April indicated that he had consented to 'act' as Chief (Marven's signature appears on the Annual Competition Certificate of 1933 - see right.) . He resigned the position at the General Meeting of the brigade on the13th June 1935 related to his pending marriage and as a consequence of leaving the town. All members of the brigade were invited to a Supper at Springhall on the 20th July, at the invitation of Mr. Everett's Mother, as a farewell gesture. Following WWII army service, he returned to live at Springhall until sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's. Annual Competition (Escape Drill)
Hon Soc of Gray's Inn
The Webmaster is indebted to Mrs F Bellis, Assistant Librarian, Lincoln's Inn Library and Andrew Mussell, Archivist, Hon Society of Gray's Inn for the details of Marven Everett's time as a prominent Solicitor. The full details provided of the archived obituary are available HERE as a Download PDF. Certificate bearing Marven Everett's signature

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Dr. Edward Newman Hailey - 1907 - 1973 (1935 Leyland Cub KF4 Photo)

After a Partnership with Dr. Burton of Vantorts Road, Dr. Hailey ran his own surgery from 1947 in Knight Street opposite Forrest Stores. There was a photograph of Dr. Hailey as a Chief Officer of the Brigade that hung on the Control Room wall for many years but knowledge of his service is sparse. He was proposed at the General Meeting of the Brigade on the13th June 1935 and at the next meeting on the 3rd of October he chaired the meeting, so it can be assumed that he accepted the position in the meantime. It would seem that Dr. Hailey was 'Called Up' as a Medical Doctor soon after the outbreak of war (*) as at a meeting held on the 8th of February 1940 the Chief Officer was again Bryan D. Nockolds!
(*) WWII Army Service - Royal Medical Corps - No.244457 promoted to 2nd Lieutenant 29th August 1942.
Photo by kind permission of Sawbridgeworth Cricket Club.

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Francis (Frank) William Wright 1905 - 1976      
Retirement Photograph [PDF Version] [PDF Version] Promotion to Section Leader Long Service Award 1943 For Exemplary Fire Service

By 1947 the changes implemented by the National Fire Service meant that the post of "Chief Officer" was no longer by invitation! An examination was now required of those qualifying or applying.


Born 6th January 1905(*) at 30 Bell Street Sawbridgeworth, one of five children. Attended the Fawbert & Barnard School in Knight Street and left at the age of 13 to take a job as Office Boy at H. A. & D. Taylors, Maltsters. He had joined the local Scout Group at some time, where the Scout Master was Mr. S. P. Woodfield, who informed him at the age of 16 that there was a vacancy in the Fire Brigade for two Messengers and encouraged him to apply. In November 1921 he and Stan Levey were told that they had been elected. The first fire he attended was at the Orchard Maltings in Station Road at 6am on Saturday 21st December 1921 where the building was well alight. His last fire was attended on the 28th October 1967 - to Beechfield on the Vantorts estate only a few hundred yards from where he lived! (*) The Church Street Fire Station was built that same year.

Like most fire brigades of the time there was very keen competition within and with other brigades and Frank took a very active part. He was a very keen fireman and albeit both football and membership of the Young Men's Meeting, run by Sidney Parmeter, manager of Forrest Stores in Knight Street, were also a popular pastime, the fire brigade eventually became his only real interest. In the late 1920's - early 1930's he applied  for membership of the London Fire Brigade and was awarded an interview at the London  Headquarters at Lamberth. However, for what ever reason he was not selected. After marriage he had a property built and lived at 31 Vantorts Road, selected for its position within easy reach of the Fire Station in Church Street. The 1939 - 1945 world war only expanded his keenness on the theory side of fire fighting and his knowledge of water became extensive leading to his being appointed Water Officer for Cambridge, should that city have been blitzed.
Presentation by Divisional Office (East Herts) George Cotton on Retirement October 1967.
In November 1947, just before the N.F.S. was disbanded in April 1948, he was promoted to Section Leader in charge of the Station. He then served the County brigade as Sub Officer in Charge until his retirement at the age of 62 on  the 31st October 1967, a total of 46 years continuous service in the brigade. His retirement was marked by a gathering of members from The Sawbridgeworth and Bishops' Stortford Brigades at the United Services Club in Station Road. The Tankard left was a gift from Bishop's Stortford Colleagues. (Died 25th December 1976). (The photo in the background can be seen HERE).