From Thatch to Fire

The History of a Village Fire Brigade

by Kevin Wyles

A History of Tysoe Fire Service, the last Thatched Fire Station in Great Britain.

Introductory Note

This work was originally published in 2000 in book form by the former Tysoe Local History Society, printed by H.E. Boddy & Co. of Banbury (ISBN 0 9539004 01) and is catalogued in the British Library.

This digital version was produced in 2023 by the Tysoe Heritage Research Group (THRG) thanks to the kind permission of the author Kevin Wyles. The text, with some very minor amendments and reformatting, is unchanged from its original form. However, the extensive series of early photographs at the end of the original book have been moved to join an existing corpus of early photographs elsewhere on this website (link under construction) .

About the Author

Kevin Wyles has lived in the village of Tysoe since the mid 1950s, when he was three years old, and the village has been the home of his family for several generations. He attended the infant and junior school in Tysoe, and completed his early education at Kineton High School, leaving at the age of fifteen to become a bricklayer and pursue a career in building and maintenance.

Kevin joined the Fire Service at the earliest possible opportunity in 1969, at the age of eighteen, serving then as a Retained Fireman with the Warwickshire Fire Service at Tysoe until the closure of The Fire Station in 1998, when he was Officer in Charge. He still lives in Tysoe..

A long time member and chairman of the former Tysoe Local History Society, he has for many years been building a collection of photographs and other historical references concerning the local area.


The experiences and memories of Kevin Wyles, recorded in ‘The History of a Village Fire Brigade’, will touch a very ‘soft spot’ with all those associated with the Fire Service, and in particular the community of Tysoe. I cannot claim to have a long-standing knowledge of the Service in Tysoe, but my affinity to the personnel who recently served at the Station is borne out of respect and admiration.

For 101 years the people of Tysoe provided a Fire Service for their local area, and the wealth of Fire Service history associated with that period is fondly and clearly captured in this book. From ‘humble’ beginnings in 1897 to a modern hi-tech age in the 1990s, the development of fire-fighting in South East Warwickshire is sympathetically charted to provide a nostalgic journey through two World Wars and towards the Millennium.

The contribution made by Lord Northampton and his family in supporting and providing for the Brigade, both in the beginning and throughout most of its existence, cannot be overstated. For me, it is most interesting to note that this ‘history lesson’ demonstrates that the challenges and needs facing a modern Fire Service are no different to those which Captain W Pargeter confronted in 1897. There was a need for a rank structure, a book of rules, fire-fighting equipment, a fire station, balance sheets and, indeed, water supplies to do the job!

I am delighted that this book has been published, not only to inform the avid fire service history reader of technical fire engineering matters, but more importantly to record forever the dedication, professionalism and unselfish bravery of all ‘Tysoe Fire-fighters’, who protected the village and local area over such a long period in true Fire Service tradition.


County Fire Officer,
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service


1897 The Beginning
1897 -1933 The Small Horse Drawn Manual Fire Engine
1933-1941 The Larger Manual Pump
1941-1948 Auxiliary Fire Service and National Fire Service Days  
1948-1971 Warwick County Fire Brigade
1972-1998 The New Fire Station
1985-1998 Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service
Officers and Men
Acknowledgements and Sponsors