1897 The Beginning


Tysoe is a village in South Warwickshire nestling beneath the Edge Hills. In nearby Compton Wynyates, there is a large Tudor mansion, the earliest part of which dates from 1481. In 1897 this was the home of William Compton, 4th Marquess of Northampton, and to this day it is still the home of the Compton family.

Before the village had a Fire Service, the only local water supply was from streams coming from the hills, from wells in the villagers’ gardens and from ponds. In 1895 there was an outbreak of diptheria in the village, as a result of which a new supply had to be found. Five new wellheads were erected around the village, water being collected in two underground reservoirs, one of which was near Winchcombe Farm and the other at the bottom of Windmill Hill. The water was piped down from these reservoirs into the new wellheads and a good supply of free and clean water was thus provided for all residents. These wellheads were erected in memory of the Rev. C D Francis, vicar of Tysoe from 1852 until 1895.

Traditionally, dating back to the 16th century, whenever there was a fire in the village, the church bells were rung to raise the alarm, shouts of ‘Fire’ were called out and all the buckets in the village were collected together. Water was drawn from the streams, wells, ponds, or the taps on the new wellheads. With all the men on one side handling the full buckets, and the women and children on the other side passing back the empty buckets, water was thrown onto the fire. All of the long ladders and hooks for removing burning thatch were stored in a barn in Jeffs Close, off the road to Shenington.

William Compton 4th Marquess, with William, 6th and William, 5th Marquess (Marquess of Northampton)

At Compton Wynyates the moat was a source of water for use in these emergencies. Most of the houses in the village were of Hornton stone and had thatched roofs. The whole of Compton Wynyates and much of Tysoe were owned by the Marquess of Northampton.

A meeting was held in the old schoolroom in Tysoe on 20 July 1897 at 9pm in order to form a fire brigade to serve the villages of Tysoe and Compton Wynyates.

At this meeting the following were in attendance:

Lord Northampton, Mr George Eden, Mr Nicholas Heritage, Mr Thomas Hirons, Mr George Hancox, Mr George Paxton, Mr George Walker, Mr Thomas Coles, Mr Charles Henry Wilkes, Mr Thomas Middleton, Mr William Pargeter, Mr Thomas Hall, Mr Edward Robinson, Mr William Harris, Mr William Walker, Mr William Geden, Mr Frank Gardner, Mr Philip Berridge, Mr Thomas Parish, Mr Hewins Butcher, Mr Ernest Wells, Mr Beesley Wells, Mr William Usher, Mr James Robinson, Mr Fred Jeffs and Mr Frank Townsend.

The following resolutions were moved from the chair and passed:

The Brigade shall be called The Tysoe and Compton Wynyates Volunteer Fire Brigade.

It shall consist of a Captain, Lieutenant, Engineer, Hon. Secretary, and not less than 26 members.

A committee of six members and the officers shall be elected to draw up the rules to be submitted to a general meeting of the Brigade.

Mr W Pargeter was elected Captain.
Mr B Wells was elected Lieutenant.
Mr T Parish was elected Engineer.
Mr S P Berridge was elected Hon. Secretary.
The first members of the committee were Mr G Eden, Mr N Heritage, Mr G Hancox, Mr G Paxton, Mr G Walker and Mr W Harris.

The first meeting of the committee was held at 8pm on Monday, 26th July 1897. The committee and the officers met and the rules were severally discussed and drawn up as advised by Lord Northampton.

Rules of the Tysoe and Compton Wynyates Volunteer Fire Brigade

1. The Brigade shall be called The Tysoe and Compton Wynyates Volunteer Fire Brigade and shall consist of not less than twenty-six members.

2. The Officers of the Brigade shall consist of one Captain, one Lieutenant, one Engineer, and one Honorary Secretary. There shall also be a Committee consisting of six members of the Brigade and

the Officers. The Secretary and the Officers and members of Committee shall be elected annually.

3. The Committee shall have the entire management of the business of the Brigade, and shall submit a report of their proceedings at a General Meeting of the Brigade.

4. The Secretary shall convene all meetings, keep a record of all proceedings, write all letters and generally perform such duties as may be required by the Committee. A General Meeting shall be called at the request of the Captain, or of any four members, notice to be given in writing to the Secretary for that purpose.

5. When there shall be a vacancy for an Officer or Member, any member may, at the next, or any subsequent General Meeting, propose a person to fill such vacancy, and shall be decided by the members then present.

6. Any person becoming a member of the Brigade must be of the age of nineteen, and under fifty.

7. Any Member changing his residence, or retiring from the Brigade, must give fourteen days notice in writing to the Captain or Secretary. Any person not doing so to incur a penalty of not less than sixpence.

8. There shall be a meeting for drill in the first week of every month, and at any other time the Captain chooses to arrange.

9. Any member missing drill without reasonable excuse for two months shall be liable to be dismissed by the Committee. Attendance at the Engine House to be considered as on duty.

10. Each Member shall promptly obey all orders which he may receive at any time from those placed in authority over him, and shall conform himself to all regulations which may from time to time be made.

11. Every complaint of the non-fulfilment of the duties of the Fireman or any breach of these rules, shall be made in writing (signed by the person making such report) to the Captain or Secretary, who shall lay the same before the Committee.

12. On any and every alarm of fire, all members to assemble at the Engine House, and immediately prepare and see that the engine is properly equipped whilst the horses (if required) are being prepared; in cases of sudden emergency a Captain pro-tem can be elected by the members of the Brigade present at the engine house. On no account is the engine to go out without the order of the Captain or Officer in command.

13. In cases of night alarm, every member, unless prevented by sickness or absence from home, to assemble at the Engine House, and any member refusing to go out when called to be dismissed from the Brigade.

14. Any complaint against a Member shall be referred to the Committee, who shall have power to decide upon the same, except in a case where a dismissal from the Brigade is thought necessary, but the Member shall previous to the meeting receive three days’ notice of the complaint, and shall be entitled to appeal against the decision of the Committee at the next General Meeting.

15. The Captain to be the Chairman of all meetings, and in his absence the Lieutenant, and if no officer be present, the members to elect their own Chairman.

16. Five Members to form a quorum of a Committee Meeting and eleven Members a General Meeting.

17. The Committee shall have full power to fine any member for insubordination, in such sum as they shall think fit, not less than sixpence, nor more than five shillings.

18. The Annual Meeting shall be held within fourteen days of the first of October. The committee shall meet at such times as they may deem expedient.

19. Drunkenness being considered not only dangerous but also disgraceful to any Member and to the Brigade in general, any Member appearing intoxicated on duty, either at a fire or drill, shall be ordered by the Officer commanding to fall out, and shall be dismissed from the Brigade, his name erased from the roll and the reason given thereon.

20. Each Member of the Brigade shall be supplied with a copy of these rules and be liable to produce the same when required, seven days’ notice to be given by the secretary. Any member failing to produce his rules shall be fined sixpence. Additional copies of the rules may be obtained from the Secretary, price 3d each.

21. The Brigade, at a Special Meeting called for the purpose, and of which not less than seven days notice has been given, shall have power to alter these rules.

Prior to the advent of our current decimal monetary system, there were 20 shillings to the pound and 12 pennies to a shilling. Other coins were the farthing (1/4 of a penny), Halfpenny (1/2 of a penny), Penny, Three-penny bit, Sixpence (Tanner), Shilling (bob), Florin (2 shilling piece), Half-crown (2 shillings and 6 pence), Crown (5 shilling piece), Half-sovereign (10 shillings), Sovereign (a gold coin of 1 pound value) and Guinea (21 shillings value).

The new decimal system had 21/2 pennies to a sixpence, 5 pennies to a shilling, and 100 pennies to a pound. Thus £5-6-6d in the old system is now £5.32 approx.