Fire Stations

CENTRAL FIRE STATION
    Built to replace the fire station at Clegg St near the Town Hall which
 
had been built in 1849 the new Central Fire Station at Ascroft St opened
 
on the 1st August 1888.

    A replacement for Central Fire station was discussed at a meeting of the Watch Committee as early as  29th Nov 1930. The site discussed would be at Chamber Rd and would cost £80,000. However, it would only be proceeded with, when and if the money was available from the Finance Committee. This was never to happen as international events were starting to have repercussions even in the little town of Oldham. In the immediate run up to the declaration of war, the Home Office had provided a grant of £3,500 to extend the Central station at Ascroft St to accommodate the AFS and the extra vehicles that would be issued at a later date.

     By the 1960s traffic problems at the town centre site of Ascroft St were getting difficult as soon as fire appliances tried to get off the yard onto Peter St. It was often quicker to walk from Peter St up to the Star Inn at King St rather than drive, or as CFO Garlick commented “the horse drawn fire-fighting appliances could get to a fire faster than modern appliances.

    The old Central station built in 1886 was now a cramped place to work with decaying facilities not fit to house a busy Fire Brigade operational station and headquarters. 
    Early in 1968 the acquisition of land around the junction of Vineyard
 
St, Glodwick Rd and Lees Rd for a new fire station to replace the Central
 
station at Ascroft St began. Work was to begin later that year on building
 
the new fire station and Brigade headquarters. This area was chosen
 
because of the immediate access onto several major roads and the new
 
southern internal by-pass (as it was known then) thus avoiding heavy
 
traffic congestion in the town. Also, the replacement building for Werneth
 
Fire Station on Manchester Rd was being considered at a site on Hollins
 
Rd and the recently opened Chadderton Fire Station on Broadway meant
 
that the obvious place to site a new station would be to the east of the
 
town. It was also perhaps fitting that the new station would be close to
 
where it had all began in 1807– Mumps Brook and also across the road
 
from the old Townfield station on Terrace St.

 The Home Office had also recognised the dire need for alternative accommodation and made a substantial grant so that the project could be started in the next financial year. Completion was planned for late in 1970 and the Brigade could take over the new buildings. The prevaricating of the Council continued for several years and it carried over to local government reorganisation when it was placed second on the list of replacement priorities at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Fire Services Committee.  In fact it wasn’t until 1979 that the new Oldham Fire station on Lees Rd, minus the headquarters but with a BA training gallery was completed.

TOWNFIELD
 

    The original police station was built in 1864 on Terrace St. 

A quote from the Manchester Courier of 2nd March 1899 expresses the opinion of the Chief Constable – Mr. Turner, that the Police Station at Townfield requires to be replaced by a new one because “it was the worst station that he had ever seen and was quite inadequate to the needs of the east end of the town – the “roughest end” he called it”. Indeed the two cells had to accommodate 400 prisoners a year!

 

The new combined Police and Fire Station at Terrace St, Townfield just off Lees Rd and a row of houses for the police-firemen opened on 28th September 1903. It was built on the site of the old station at a cost of just over £10,000 and No 4 Engine and tender, along with four horses were stationed there. This station provided fire cover until after the war and closed in 1948.
 
 MUMPS BROOK
The first record of a fire station in Oldham was at Mumps Brook just off Gravel Walks which is between Lees Rd and Huddersfield Rd today. The engine house was funded by public subscription.
 
 
WERNETH FIRE STATION

     In 1864 at a cost of £932 the first fire engine house in Werneth was opened in John St, consisting of a nine inch manual pump purchased from Mr. John Hall of Oldham. The station was manned by Police doing auxiliary fireman work with lamplighters or anyone available as pumpers at the rate of sixpence per hour, plus liquid refreshments.

    In 1898 a new Werneth station opened in Manchester Rd, Oldham which was built to plans by Messrs. Winder and Taylor, architects of Oldham. It had “the latest improvements and conveniences of firemen’s dwellings which were a special feature at this period and every accommodation will provide for the mental and physical recreation of the men during their leisure hours.” The firemen’s dwellings on Frederick St are still there today. Stationed at Werneth was one Engine (No. 3), one tender and four horses (Ben and Dan for the engine, Nat and Joe for the tender). Fire Brigade horses were kept on duty at Werneth until 18th June 1910 when a motorised engine was bought, at a cost of £711 10s 0d. It was still manned by Police Firemen until 1st January 1935 when twelve permanent firemen were posted to Werneth. During the early stages of World War 2 when the Auxiliary Fire Service was formed, Werneth Fire Station on Manchester Rd was the nucleus of Area 2. This system carried on until the formation of the National Fire Service on 1st August 1941, when Werneth became just a number amongst many in No. 10 Region, 27 Area, ‘H’ Division, A2 Sub-Division, with its members serving in the Manchester Blitz and many other parts of the count. The 1st April 1948 saw the station once again become Werneth and part of Oldham Fire Brigade. At least until 1st April 1974 when once again Werneth became part of a greater whole, Greater Manchester Fire Service with a new call sign - C34. Today the old Werneth is no more and the

building was finally demolished by the council in 1987 after they bought it

for £500 from the Fire Authority. It had been vacant for a number of years

because nobody had wanted to buy the building and was being vandalised. However the spirit of Werneth lives on as Hollins Fire Station on Hollins Rd. The new station built in 1980 comprises – “a two bay appliance room forming part of a mainly single storey building with a small semi-basement containing the heating chamber and other services. Facilities include: - Administration and Fire Prevention Offices, Equipment Maintenance and Lecture rooms, Dormitory, Ablution and Catering Rooms. The Drill Ground features a free standing drill tower measuring 3 metres by 3 metres, with 4 levels of drill platform and an overall height of 15.5 metres. The station compliment of personnel is 34 uniformed officers and 4 civilian staff.” (From the programme of the official opening).

The present Oldham Fire Station (callsign E33) was opened in 1979 and currently houses 2 pumps and a Hydraulic Platform.