Sawbridgeworth Fire Brigade - Other Fireman Profiles
Page last updated: 26/01/2016
 
Walter H. Stacey 1870 - 1933 Born in Sawbridgeworth and served in the brigade for just over 35 years from its inception in September 1897, when he was present at the first committee meeting in the Parish Council Room (presumably in the Church House, Church Street), and was voted to serve on the committee on the 18th November 1902. On the resignation of H. W. Lawrence he was appointed Second Officer. He worked at Forrest Stores in Knight Street just 'yards' from the then new fire station in Church Street and apparently resided in Barkers Lane (Station Road(*). He retired through ill health in October 1932 at the age of 62.
(*) New information indicates that Walter and his wife and 5 children lived in Station Road in cottages opposite the junction of Station Road and Knight Street where it joins the fairly steep hill. With appreciation to Trevor Brown for this information.
Walter Stacey's funeral procession in 1933, as seen from the flat above White's Garage in London Road. The Gate public house is opposite, the then home and wood/haulage business of Third Officer Harry Taylor.
In the picture the undertaker is Henry Burton who had a building and Undertaker business in Bell Street.
(Picture supplied by John Dear)
   
Walter Tarling 1875 - 1962
Born in Sawbridgeworth and apparently worked as a house decorator and painter, perhaps with his Father who had the same profession. He was also present at the inaugural committee meeting mentioned above and became a member of that committee on the 23rdOctober 1900. (The attendance to Walter Tarling's funeral is recorded in the 1962 Log Book for Wednesday 9th May 1962 at 12:30)
Henry William Lawrence 1858 - 1922 (Second Officer - Brigade Service 1897 - 1907)
Little information is available on Mr. Lawrence but he was, it seems already acknowledged as the right candidate for Second Officer at the inaugural committee meeting and was prominent in his support for the brigade ongoing. His rank became Lieutenant in June 1906 without explanation. He, along with Engineer Bryan and Firemen Stacey, Tarling and Perry, were awarded the British Fire Services Association 10 years long service medal in June 1907. In a letter dated 11th November 1907 he resigned, the reason for which is not recorded.
With grateful acknowledgement to Graham Parish(*) of Sawbridgeworth who has supplied this additional information on Henry Lawrence:
(*) Henry William Lawrence was his great grandfather's older brother. "The reason for his resignation from the fire brigade related to work. He moved to Ponders End in 1907 to undertake the job of Inspector of Works during the construction of the King George the V reservoir."
William (Billy) George Prior 1888 - 1977 (NFS Photo 1948)
Born in Bishop's Stortford but lived with his family in Springhall Road, presumably until his later employment at H A & D Taylor's maltings where he was employed as Engineer in Charge and lived in one of the tied houses of that company in Lower Sheering Road.
Henry (Harry) L Taylor 1881 - 1952 (1935 Leyland Cub FK4 Photo)
Was elected a new member of the brigade on the 12th September 1905 but it appears he resigned in June 1907 only to be reinstated as Fireman in that September to replace Engineer W. Pleasance! It seems he continued in the brigade on-going and at some stage reached 3rd Officer Status. The attendance records into the early part of the Second World war show his continued attendance until January 1943 when he was absent ongoing, presumably through illness, until the records show his "Discharge" in March that year.
Henry was better known as Harry and as some photographs indicate he was a very portly man whose waist measurement was not believed when NFS uniforms were ordered in the early 1940's. For many years he was the publican of The Gate public house in London Road. Other records show that he later lived at 10 New Street, Sawbridgeworth with his wife Ellen, until his death. 
William (Bill) Herbert Searle 1872 - 1969 (1935 Leyland Cub FK4 Photo)
Bill was a Wheelwright by trade originally living with his family in West Road, Sawbridgeworth. Later he and the family moved to Bridgefoot House (Farm), Station Road where he carried on his business. His son Jack(*) later took on the business and further developed it to a car hire and vehicle repair business.
(*) Jack Searle 1910 - 1994 was also a member of the brigade for many years and is also in the photograph as above - he retired from the brigade in 1960.
William (Bill) White 1897 -            (1935 Leyland Cub FK4 Photo)
Bill was the co-owner with his Brother Sidney (Sid) of White's Garage in London Road (almost opposite The Gate Public House). However the business had been started at 16 London Road, close to Springhall Road, by their father Frederick as a cycle repair business. The London Road Garage itself was sold on, probably in the 1970's, and later became a petrol station only. There is no recorded date when Bill joined the brigade but he was certainly a member in the 1920's and frequently the principal Driver of motorised appliances. He was one of three Leading Firemen in the late 1940's and remained as such until he left the brigade through ill health c.1958. Brother Sid (1898 - 1976) was a member during the war years only, as indicated by the photograph Photo Gallery March 1948 .
Peter William (Bill) Taylor 1909 - 1977   (Photo Gallery March 1948)
Bill Taylor was born at the King William IV public house in Vantorts Road where his father and mother were the publicans. Again there is no record of when Bill joined the brigade but he was a member as a young man in the 1920's. Bill was very keen on drilling and was a frequent member of the teams that went away to National Competitions as can be seen by photographs that include him. During WWII Bill became a Leading Fireman - he was employed at Walter Lawrence Joinery Works and continued there afterwards. In the 1950's Bill and his wife took over The Gate Public House where they were the resident publicans for several years during which time he resigned from being a member of the fire brigade.
John (Jack) N. Riches 1908 - 1988         (1935 Leyland Cub FK4 Photo)
Jack was one of the sons of Charles J. Riches who ran the very successful Sawbridgeworth Business of Charles Riches Ltd, The Iron Mongers in the The Square. It is not clear when he joined the brigade but he was certainly a full member in 1935 as will be verified by the photograph in the link above. Jack, as he was always known, learned the shoe repair business at Bishop's Stortford and eventually set up on his own at 21 Bell Street Sawbridgeworth, living with his wife Gwen (A firewoman during WWII  (Photo Gallery March 1948) on the premises. Jack did not miss many turnouts (or drills for that matter) working and living so conveniently close to the Church Street Fire Station. Jack's younger brother Tom 1912 - 1965 was also a WWII fireman - he is also in the photograph referred to.
Leonard (Len) Arthur Read 1910 - 1973 (Bedford Water Tender photo fourth from right)
Len was another employee of Walter Lawrence Joinery Works. It is known that during WWII he was seconded to the East Coast (Norfolk or Suffolk) and was working on boats of some kind - possibly Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB's). It is believed that is where his fire service started. On his return to Sawbridgeworth he joined the brigade and after the resignation of previous Leading Firemen - possibly William (Bill) Taylor, he was promoted to Leading Fireman. On the resignation of Frank Wright in 1967 he was promoted to Sub Officer in Charge.
Henry (Harry) Charles Read 1911 - 1978 (Photo Gallery March 1948)
Harry too was employed at Walter Lawrence Joinery Works and it is believed to have lived in Sayesbury Road - Harry was a younger brother of Len (above). As with those other brigade members employed by the Joinery Works he would usually make attendances (incidents and drills) on a regular basis. It is not known when Harry joined - possibly just prior to the outbreak of WWII but it would seem he served throughout as his attendance is recorded in the 1940 attendance records and in the station log book entries into 1962.
Harry Victor Akers 1912 - 1976 (Photo Gallery March 1948)
Harry was, it seems born in Bishop's Stortford but moved to Sawbridgeworth and worked for H. A. & D. Taylor Maltsters in the  main office. It is believed he joined the brigade in the early stages of WWII and remained a member until his work moved to Bury St. Edmunds, probably in the mid to late 1960's.
Jack Puncher 1912 - 1995 (Bedford Water Tender photo second from right)
Jack lived on The Forebury Estate and all of the time, as a member of the brigade, responded to turnouts on foot. It is not known when Jack joined the brigade but probably pre WWII - like several other members he was employed at Walter Lawrence Joinery Works. Jack was a keen 'front line' fireman who was always keen to be at the fire fighting end  'the branch-man' in dealing with outbreaks. Jack introduced his son-in-law to the brigade - Peter Roberts - standing next to Jack in the photograph.
Reginald (Reg.) Wright 1913 - 1977       (1935 Leyland Cub FK4 Photo)
Reg. was the younger brother of Frank Wright and joined the brigade while still living at home (30 Bell Street) in 1929. He served throughout WWII taking on the role of NFS Station 12B4X Dispatch Rider (the bike was NFS grey and almost certainly a Matchless) - Reg. continued after the war until 1957. He was employed at H. A. & D. Taylors Malting as a Laboratory Analyst on both the Malting and Malt Extract sides of the business.

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