Stories from the Fire Station Personnel
13th June 2008
Some of Fordingbridge Fire Station
Personnel from 1954 until 2004
Memory Lane.

This section is intended to share the personal memories of some of the individuals who
have served at Fordingbridge Fire Station over the years and to give another insight into life
as a firefighter.

“When we arrived at a heath fire at Cuckoo Hill in Gorley one day the Sub Officer, seeing it
was only a small fire, instructed us to take the insides out of our fire helmets and then use
them as buckets. Being a young crew we found this hilarious and promptly got to work to
put the fire out.”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“I recall as a young boy a thatched property in Sandleheath catching fire after a dog had
knocked over a paraffin heater. I can remember the first fire engine to arrive came from
Ringwood and much later it was joined by one from Salisbury.”
Auxiliary Leading Fireman Jim Palmer
Authors Note: As this memory was in the early 1930’s the attendance of fire engines from
outside Fordingbridge would highlight the poor state of the Fordingbridge Brigade around
this time.

“The fire station in Salisbury Street was like an Army billet and had a separate building
which was used as the appliance room. In here was a row of individual metal lockers for
the men’s kit. There was also a useful hose washing facility and a special hoist for drying
the hose.”
Fireman Ron Baines

“When responding to a fire call at the old fire station in Salisbury Street if you were the first to
arrive you had to go down three steps and into a little porch at the back of the appliance bay
to get a key and then run up another three or four steps to the recreation room. You then had
to open up the recreation room and grab another key before running back down the steps to
open up the appliance bay. By this time there were normally several other firemen waiting to
get in. Our kit was kept in metal lockers and it was quite a job to get dressed with all the
locker doors flying open and banging around!”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“I remember being approached by Sub Officer Bob Kenchington and being asked if I would
like a part time job at the fire station as they needed someone to keep the log book up to
date as it had got a bit behind! I agreed and shortly after had a successful interview with a
Divisional Officer Stanley Crook. Later I was driven to Winchester by Ewert Stevens to collect
my uniform and was shown around the control room.”
Fireman Ron Baines

“When the new Bedford Water Tender arrived in 1968 it had a metal ladder on it which was
quite a new idea. Not long after we got it one of the metal rungs was bent during a drill and
the ladder had to be replaced. The next metal ladder proved a bit more of a problem. To
extend it you had to turn it round to face the wrong way and only then could you get the
ladder to its full height. Once it was extended we then had to turn it back round the right way
to allow us to climb up it!
One evening an Officer arrived to take us for drills. The lads asked me how they should
carry out the ladder drill. ‘Same as normal’ I told them and when they started to extend the
ladder the wrong way round the Officer asked what they were doing? When we told him it
was impossible to do it normally he attempted, to no avail, to do it himself. Shortly after we
received a wooden ladder in its place!”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“On one particular drill night Firewoman Jane Kenchington wanted to ‘have a go’ at holding
the hose. She possibly did not realise how powerful it was and, of course, I ended up
soaked. The following half an hour was spent looking for my glasses which had been
knocked off by the jet of water.”
Auxiliary Fireman John Carpenter

“A call was received one day to a cat stuck on the roof of the Albany Hotel. Leading Fireman
Vic Oxford climbed up the ladder and when he reached the top the cat caught sight of him
and jumped down the other side.”
Fireman Ron Baines

“At a debrief following a large A.F.S. exercise the Chief Officer in charge asked if anyone had
any recommendations for improvements to the drill. I casually put my hand up and stated
‘Yes Sir the lighting in the Army kitchens should be improved.’ With a confused look on his
face the Chief enquired why. In reply I stated that after collecting my plate of meat, roast
potatoes and vegetables I had returned to the fire engine to eat it and discovered I had
poured custard all over it by mistake! There was not a dry eye in the room.”    
Leading Auxiliary Fireman Jim Palmer

“The Commer (KAA 523) had a so called light pump on it which was stowed just behind the
cab. It was a four cylinder engine, something like in an Austin 7, and need special skids to
get it off the appliance and four people were required to carry it. It was not so light really!”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“During Bob Kenchington’s time at the station I cycled around the area with a portable tape
recorder and narrated house names into it to later compile a useful directory of addresses.
Several times my listings helped the crew locate a property quickly.”
Fireman Ron Baines

“I remember the bells going down one evening and at the time I was eating an orange. I
never thought anymore about it until we were well on the way to Godshill and I realised that I
still had the orange in my mouth.”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“I recall that Fireman Hoppe set up a pools syndicate at the station. Soon afterwards they
had a massive win totalling £1,792.15.0d which was an awful lot of money in 1959.”
Fireman Ron Baines

“An exercise at Marchwood Power Station, which involved pretending the storage tanks
were on fire, was an impressive sight with over fifty hoses being played on them.”
Auxiliary Fireman John Carpenter

“When I first joined at Fordingbridge the wages in those days were paid to you in cash. The
officer in charge, Bob Kenchington, had to withdraw the money from the Bank and then paid
you what you had earnt for that particular period.”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“At the serious fire at the Picket Post Hotel Bob Mouland was using a jet off a ladder. The
pressure to the hose was somehow increased and poor Bob found himself and the ladder
being pulled away from the building and balancing in mid air.”
Sub Officer Len Jones

“When the fire station was situated in Salisbury Street I used to respond from the other end
of town. I can remember that it was all uphill and I was always fairly out of breath when I
arrived on my bike.”
Leading Fireman John Shering

“I provided the station with several ‘inventions’ during my time there. There was an
electronic score board for the table tennis which drew much admiration from visiting teams,
a special bracket to place in the station’s side door to stop it slamming when the appliance
doors were opened but probably the most significant one was the appliance indicator board
that I built. By placing four switches by the teleprinter the first man in was able to select the
right switch and illuminate a coloured bulb behind a marker for the requested appliance.
There was a separate coloured bulb for the Water Tender, Water Carrier, Landrover and
one for a chimney fire as in those days only five firemen went to a chimney. This helped
everyone know what was going out far quicker than before.
I also developed a system, at home, to save me valuable seconds at night. By using a piece
of photographic film, some thread and a couple of electric contacts I made my bedroom
lights come on automatically when the house bell operated.”
Fireman Ron Baines

“We were called to a caravan fire at Sandy Balls one day. A young lad who lived in the van
had woken and made a cup of tea. Unfortunately he had a gas leak and when the stove was
lit it started a fire. The build up of gas resulted in a huge explosion which blew all the
windows and doors out. Amazingly the blast also blew the fire out and luckily the lad was
Sub Officer Len Jones

“One day the fire engine turned out from the station in Salisbury Street and as it went to turn
sharp left the bell came loose and started to fall off. One of the crew was John Damant, who
later on became a Divisional Officer in Hampshire, and he calmly jumped out of the fire
engine, caught the bell and just as calmly climbed back on and raced off to the fire.”
Leading Auxiliary Fireman Jim Palmer

“In the days of the old teleprinter system we received a call one day to Landford. I wrote the
address down on a pad and gave it to the Officer in Charge. Unfortunately he misread my
capital ‘L’ for a ‘S’ and headed off in totally the wrong direction to Sandford and never found
any sign of fire. We never heard anymore more about it but after this I always wrote the
address out in capitals.”
Fireman Ron Baines

“Whilst we were trying to rescue a cow in a slurry pit at Alderholt one day a poor Cranborne
fireman got in the way of the animal who gave him a good kick and caused him to fly
straight into the slurry.”
Sub Officer Len Jones

“I remember a shout in the late 1950’s when having arrived at the station Ron Baines
handed over the slip of paper with the address of the fire. We read it and thought it said New
Road, Sandford and when Ron asked if we knew where we were going we said that of
course we did. I can remember making as much noise as possible as we drove through
Ringwood on the way to the fire. On our arrival we found nothing and after some time
managed to locate a phone to contact Winchester Control and advise them we had found
no sign of fire. They then informed us that we should in fact be at Landford which was some
considerable distance the other way. It was most embarrassing!!”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“The convoys to all our exercises were always carried out at 30 mph and it was really
surprising how quick we arrived at our destinations each time.”
Auxiliary Fireman John Carpenter

“As a bit of entertainment on occasions I would swing a bucket of water round and round
until it eventually passed right over my head. The idea was to demonstrate how gravity
worked. However I ended up rather wet more than once especially when I tried it with two
buckets! As I remember it was always Charlie Gouge who laughed the loudest.”
Fireman Ron Baines

“In 1966 I went on a weeks motor cycle despatch riders course at Moreton-in-Marsh. I
thoroughly enjoyed this and passed with flying colours with the road safety they taught me
standing me in good stead for the future. I was promised a motorcycle but it never came
and we disbanded shortly afterwards. It must be remembered that primarily we were all
members of the Civil Defence organisation, Jacks of all trades, but trained to the standard
of full time firemen. At Fordingbridge we all passed our exams with very high marks.”
Auxiliary Fireman John Carpenter

“During a serious heath fire at Rockford it was stated that flames had shot right through the
cab of the Commer from one side to the other. On its return I can recall seeing the blistered
Fireman Ron Baines

“Before the days when the fire station siren was operated automatically from Winchester I
can recall that in the hallway of our home we had a little switchboard which was sat up on a
small shelf. When there was a fire call a small buzzer sounded on the switchboard. My
father would rush over to the shelf, drop down the flaps on the front and then press a couple
of buttons to operate the siren. He would then proceed straight to the fire station.”
Fireman Roger Kenchington

“A fire at Godshill one day saw us having to try and find an old lady who was reported to be
inside the building. This was in the days before breathing apparatus and I can remember
that myself and John Shering crawled in on our stomachs with Charlie Gouge holding on to
one of our feet and then Ken Coles holding on to his feet. This allowed us to get as far
inside as we could safely in the thick smoke. Sadly we could not do anything for the poor old
Sub Officer Len Jones  

“I recall one time we went on a visit to either the Southampton Docks or Pirelli’s at
Eastleigh. Three of us from Fordingbridge were taken over in Ringwood’s Landrover and on
the way home we all started to sway in the back at different speeds to confuse the driver.
Eventually he stopped the Landrover and got out and inspected the wheels whilst we all
agreed with him that the vehicle was swaying very badly at times and there may be a
problem. We never heard if he made it back to Ringwood OK.”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“At a station jumble sale one year someone brought along a Pianola to sell. We had great
fun turning the handle to produce the tunes. Then Ken Coles had a brainwave and,
understanding that it worked on the principle of suction, connected a vacuum cleaner that
was also amongst the jumble to the Pianola and sure enough it merrily played away. The
first station jumble sale was held whilst we were still at the Salisbury Street station. That
time it was held in the Victoria Rooms but once we moved to the new fire station we held
them there and over the years they became very popular.”
Fireman Ron Baines  

“One drill night I had been used to demonstrate how to tie a casualty on to a ladder.
However once the drill was finished the other lads thought it would be funny to leave me tied
up at the back of the fire engine. The longer they left me there the crosser I got and in the
end I think they were too frightened to untie me anyway.”
Fireman John West

“For a charity event one year we borrowed the brass helmets which belonged to the
Breamore House brigade. When I picked them up they were in a bad state and were all
green and grubby. Ken Coles emptied out some old car batteries and with the acid we soon
had those helmets looking as good as new.”

“We were out on a RTA one day and after the rush was over Alan Brooks started to moan
about his boots. ‘My wellies are too small - someone has been swapping them around
again’ he kept saying for an hour or so! Alas when we got back to the fire station we could
see what the problem was. He had his boots on the wrong feet.”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“At a fire at Frogham one day we had gone in with a hose reel and were putting out the fire
when the occupier politely told us there was a gas bottle inside. As we hastily started to
make our way out the bottle exploded with a huge bang. Pity he had not told us a bit earlier!”
Sub Officer Len Jones

“On a flooding call in Gorley one night I volunteered to run out some hose. I merrily trotted off
with the hose and suddenly disappeared up to my waist into a water filled ditch that had
been obscured by the surface water.”
Firefighter Derek Jones

“We had been called to a roof fire at Hamptworth Lodge and on arrival the driver, Dave
Stone, booked us in attendance with Control and stated ‘No sign of fire investigating.’ The
appliance from Salisbury entered from the other side of the estate and about a minute later
booked themselves in attendance and immediately made pumps four as the roof was well
alight. We were investigating the wrong building!”
Leading Firefighter Colin Coley

“At one time the station was pretty successful in the inter station darts competitions and one
year Spud Murphy and I won the doubles championship. There was one night when we
thought we were playing a darts match at home so we got all the sandwiches made up at
the local pub only to find we were actually playing away. We loaded all the sandwiches up
into the car before we left and stopped off across the forest on the way home for a picnic!
Another night we came out of a pub after a darts match and none of us could remember the
way home. Ken Coles suggested that Spud, who was driving, followed a car in front to
hopefully find the way home. Well Spud did as Ken suggested to the point where we
eventually ended up sat on this poor blokes drive as Spud had literally followed him home!”
Fireman John West

“Amongst the most memorable calls during my time at Fordingbridge was the serious
flooding in West Street in December 1979, the fire at Redbrook Cottages in January 1980
and a huge forest fire at Whitesheet Plantation near Ferndown in May 1980. After I left the
fire brigade my time as a firefighter stood me in good stead. Whilst I was working at
Buckingham Palace, in 1986, I became part of the salvage team and it was my job to train
the craftsmen and porters who made up the team. I was also responsible for escorting
London Fire Brigade Officers on tours of the Palace from the cellars up to the roof.”
Fireman Richard Shearing

“The big black Pye alerter that replaced the siren used to sit in a charger by the side of my
Dad’s bed at night. I remember as a child coming home one day and discovering our dog
on Dad’s bed along with the new bleeper which was in thousands of pieces.”
Fireman Keith Brooks

“The Water Tender was out on a chimney fire in Godshill when we received another shout
for the Water Carrier to a barn on fire. I quickly read the turnout message and having seen
Cranborne we set off in that direction. Several minutes later on the way to Alderholt I looked
again and realised that Cranborne were attending the fire with us and we should be going
to Tinkers Cross. We quickly turned round and still got there first.”
Firefighter Mark West

“We attended a drill at Boveridge House one night with a crew from Cranborne. It was a
breathing apparatus drill and we were all totally amazed to see the Cranborne crew emerge
from the building dressed in a Pantomime horse’s outfit which they had found in the cellar.
The senior officer who was there was left totally speechless and went home soon
Leading Firefighter John Mouland

“On a flooding call in Gorley we were removing the flood water with buckets from a property.
Just as I turned and threw a full bucket of water over the garden wall Len Jones walked past
with his pipe going. Unfortunately Len and his pipe caught the full impact of the water and
the pipe was most definitely extinguished.”
Leading Firefighter John Mouland

“I recall attending a horse that was stuck in an inspection tank at Ibsley Garage. Whilst I
was putting down a straw bale to help it get out the horse bit me on the backside.”
Fireman John West

“I remember cycling miles to follow the fire engine. We used to find them by the water trail
they left behind as they drove along. On one occasion we got a lift part of the way home as
Ken Coles put our bikes on the roof and dropped us off at the Cottage Hospital.”
Fireman Keith Brooks   

“One night our Link Officer, Station Officer Bob Barlow, had to check that we all had the
correct alerters that were issued to us. He keenly started checking the numbers on his list
against the ones on our alerters. Within a short time he started to scratch his head as none
of them matched the list. Poor old Bob did not realise that prior to him starting his check we
had all swapped alerters.”
Firefighter Paul Dorrington

“We were called one night, at about midnight, to a chimney fire at a house at Charford
Lions. When we arrived Steve Coles went to jump out the front of the cab but unfortunately
got his leg wrapped up in the cable of the spotlight. The sight of Steve disappearing head
first out the door and spinning on his helmet on the gravel was quite impressive!”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“Steve Coles and dogs seem to have a dislike for each other, I can remember running out
of the Load of Hay one Friday night and seeing the Landlord’s dog taking chunks out of
Steve’s behind. Another time we were at a field fire at Bob Mouland’s farm when his
Alsatian decided that Steve looked quite tasty and bit right through his leggings. Even Steve’
s own dog has been known to chase after him on a fire shout from home!”
Firefighter Mark West

“We had a fire call one night when everybody was at a party at Bernie Merrick’s house.
Almost all of us piled into Bernie’s Triumph Herald which due to the excess weight
struggled to get down the road. Eventually it stopped going altogether and most of us in the
car missed the shout as we had to get out and run the rest of the way to the station!”
Leading Firefighter Colin Coley

“After putting out a forest fire one night we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the
forest in the pitch black. The fire had been lighting our way but now it was out we were
slightly disorientated in the middle of nowhere and not sure where we really were.”
Leading Firefighter John Mouland

“Our original Landrover (YOR 207) had its own set of chimney equipment on it. I can recall
that on a couple of occasions the Landrover was sent on its own to a chimney fire when the
pump was already out elsewhere.”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“I enjoyed every minute of my time at D47. The incidents that really stick in my mind are
Burgate House, a wooden shop at Cranbourne that caught fire on a drill night and was
visible for miles and a barn fire at Downton which is still one of the hottest outdoor fires I
have experienced. I also recall the microlight crash at the Junior School. I was stood in our
garden watching the planes when the bleeper went off. I was not surprised that was where
we had been turned out to.”
Fireman Keith Brooks

“The fire at The White Hart in Salisbury was the first occasion that we had put up our 135
ladder in anger. When we later returned to take it back down it had disappeared. After
searching all over for it we found it chucked on top of Pewseys fire engine. The ladder did
not even fit on their gantry but they had obviously taken a fancy to it!”
Firefighter Mark West

“I can remember having a shout in the middle of the night when still living at home with
Mum and Dad and hearing Dad say ’Don’t wake the boy up yet let me get my trousers on
first.’ By this time however I was out the door and on my way to the station.”
Sub Officer Steve Coles

“During the storms of January 1990 we had attended a road accident at Bramshaw
Telegraph. On the way home the short extension ladder suddenly blew off the roof and
ended up in the forest. We had to scramble on top of the fire engine and tie it down in really
strong winds.”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“On one occasion the fire engine turned out to a fire with a crew made up entirely of three
fathers and three sons. These were Len and Derek Jones, Ken and Steve Coles and John
and Mark West. Quite a unique event.”
Firefighter Derek Jones

“It was always amusing when John Mouland was working on the milk round. When we had
a call in the morning, and if it was a fairly quick one, when we were back and washing off
the fire engine you would suddenly hear the whirring of John’s electric milk float as he came
in on the shout. He used to turn the lights off sometimes to make it go a bit quicker!”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“On a large dung heap fire one day at East Martin I asked Chalky to drag the hosereel
across the heap and extinguish some hot spots on the other side. As he reached the top he
started to sink into the dung and went in up to his knees. Of course no one found it
Leading Firefighter Colin Coley

“One Christmas time we stood by at Ringwood Fire Station for their Christmas party. During
the evening a large thatch fire broke out at Britford. We were sent from Ringwood to standby
at Fordingbridge and from there were sent on to the fire. It was quite strange having to
standby on your own station with someone else’s fire engine.”
Firefighter Dave Stone

“When Nigel Whatley used to turn in to the station as he ran through the door he would
always kick his shoes off up in the air. One day they came off so fast they landed on top of
the fire engine.”
Firefighter Mark West

“The sight of Salisbury engulfed in an orange glow as we drove through Britford on our way
to the Maltings Shopping Centre is something I will never forget.”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“We had been called to a cow stuck in a deep pit at Rockbourne one evening. When the
Senior Officer arrived he suggested that we filled the pit with water and floated the cow out!
Considering that it was a large cow and was actually in calf this was not such a good idea.”
Firefighter Mark West

“Whilst putting out a field fire at Breamore one afternoon all of a sudden Kev Nicklen was
stood there with a huge grass snake in his hand and waving the snake about for us all to
Sub Officer Steve Coles

“Following the funeral of Bob Kenchington, Steve and Chalky went back to the house for
refreshments. Whilst there a fire call came in and on them both running out into Sherings
yard two bikes belonging to John Shering were spotted and were utilised as transport to the
station. However these bikes were very old and very big and took an awful lot of puff to get
them going. It was quite an amusing sight!”
Firefighter Derek Jones

“I remember my first shout was to a hay trailer at Rockstead Farm. Whilst out on this call the
Water Carrier (UTP 78K) sprung a major leak in the tank and after this we did not see it for
almost a year.”
Firefighter Derek Horsburgh

“On our way to the Farnborough Airshow in 1986 we had to stop and ask someone the way
to Farnborough Fire Station. We got quite a strange look from this person but that was
possibly because we were all in a fire brigade van and they must have thought we were
taking the mickey.”
Firefighter Dean Palmer

“At a combine harvester alight at Alderholt one afternoon I was using the hosereel
alongside Snowy Horsburgh. As we stood there putting out the blaze one of the large tyres
exploded with a huge bang. It scared the life out of both of us.”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“A certain new recruit started to come down to drill each week with a briefcase. One week
as a bit of light hearted fun we all stood on parade with a variation of suitcases by our side.
We never saw the briefcase again!”
Firefighter Derek Horsburgh

“At the fire at the Albany Hotel Bernie Merrick was wearing breathing apparatus. Before he
entered the building the guideline was attached to his set. Unfortunately it was put on
upside down and as Bernie moved away it spilled out into Bridge Street like spaghetti.”
Firefighter Dean Palmer

“One afternoon we were called to a cat stuck up a tree at Woodgreen. The cat was some
way up a large tree so the ladder was put up and I climbed up with a hose reel. After a
couple of practise shots I caught the cat perfectly with the jet and it shot out the tree. As I
looked down I could see the horror on the faces of the other lads at the bottom. They were
stood with a canvas sheet ready to catch the cat but unfortunately were the wrong side of the
tree! Luckily the cat lived to climb another tree.”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“For the cycle ride to Vimoutiers I provided the role of support driver making sure that all the
bags arrived at the ferry terminal for the boys to save them carrying them on the ride to
Portsmouth. After delivering the gear I decided to wait and see them off on to the ferry. As
they went through passport control I could suddenly see a change in the mood. Somehow
Snowy had brought along his son’s passport and not his own. There was less than an hour
till the boat sailed but after a mad dash back through the forest I managed to get the
passport back to Portsmouth just in time.”
Firefighter Dave Stone

“After the fire at Deer Holt in Stuckton I remember that we were called back early the
following day to extinguish some hot spots. Whilst there we assisted the owner with
recovering some of his belongings. On entering the downstairs study through a window we
were amazed to discover a goldfish still merrily swimming around in his melted and
misshapen tank apparently none the worse from its ordeal the day before.”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“I remember as a boy in the war being taken by my Father to London. My Uncle, who was a
Policeman in the City, took us to visit a fire station and I was allowed to slide down the pole.
This was quite something to me as Fordingbridge had nothing of the sort. It is always
something I have remembered to this day.”
Mr Bernie Young – Son of Fireman Reg Young

“In 1962 I started, at the request of Bob Mouland, to attend the Benevolent meetings as the
station representative for Fordingbridge. Well forty two years on and I am still going to those
Sub Officer Len Jones

“One day whilst we were attending a chimney fire at Breamore the officer in charge, Bob
Kenchington, went off to a nearby property to use their phone to get a message back to fire
control. Unfortunately he was gone for so long, possibly admiring a television set at the
house as they were still fairly uncommon at that time, that the senior fireman, Cyril Harris,
decided that it was time to get back to the fire station. So that’s what we did and left the
Boss there. We returned to the station but it was not long before the siren went off again
and we were sent back to pick up Bob!”  
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“During an A.F.S. exercise we were on our way to Moreton-in-Marsh and I was in the front
Landrover leading ’White Company’. I remember that I accidentally took the entire company
the wrong way down a one way street in Kidlington, Oxfordshire during the trip up there.”
Leading Auxiliary Firewoman Jane Kenchington

“Each year we used to receive, from the New Forest Verderers, one and a half haunches of
venison to be shared between the station.”  
Fireman Arthur Cox

“We were very fortunate with the deer we got from the Forestry as I always had a nice sharp
knife and Ken Coles always knew exactly what to do with the beasts. It was always divided
up most fairly.”
Leading Fireman John Shering

“The bleeper went one day in the early hours of the morning and on getting out to my car I
opened the driver’s door and jumped in. To my total shock and amazement John Mouland,
who had been out on his milk round and had got to my car before me, was sat in the
passenger seat waiting for me! It certainly made me jump.”
Fireman Bernie Merrick

“One day whilst on our way to a fire we were saved from a nasty accident by the driving skills
of Charlie Gouge. Although a serious incident had been averted we had unfortunately had a
slight argument with a tree. The force of the impact had knocked out one of the bolts on a
side locker of the Commer and had filled the hole completely with oak from the tree. When
we got back to the station we brought together the many different skills on the station to
overcome the situation. With my carpentry skills, Ken’s metal working knowledge and Cyril’
s painting ability we put the fire engine back in shape and it was a long time before anyone
noticed the repairs!”
Leading Fireman John Shering

“The morning of the fire at Loaders Mill was a freezing cold one and several people slipped
up on the ice when we first arrived. My real memory of this fire though is when myself, Colin
Coley and Paul Dorrington were right at the top of the Mill in breathing apparatus and a
large motor wheel came crashing down from the roof. We certainly got out of there a lot
quicker than we had gone in!”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“I went out in charge of a chimney fire one day and sent Fireman Hoppe up on the roof with
a hosereel. He started to spray water down the chimney pot to extinguish the blaze.
Unfortunately he had picked the wrong pot and was spraying the water down the neighbour’
s chimney. Sadly the lady next door had all her washing drying by her nice warm fire. With
the sudden arrival of water in her grate the washing was quickly blackened as was most of
the front room. We spent quite some time tidying up and putting our little mistake right.”
Leading Fireman John Shering

“Whilst we were fighting a roof fire at Apple Tree Cottage in Godshill we suddenly had more
water on our hands than we had bargained for! Dean Palmer and Mark West were using a
jet through the loft hatch when, without warning, the plastic water tank in the roof melted due
to the heat and poured gallons of hot water down through the opening soaking both of them
to the bone.”
Leading Firefighter Pete White

“I was the last person to drive the fire engine out of the old Salisbury Street fire station on a
call. The honour of driving on the first ‘shout’ from our new premises in Station Road went
to Wally Andrews on the 28th July 1957.”
Leading Fireman Charlie Gouge

“One drill night we carried out an exercise at St Mary’s Church to familiarise ourselves with
the specialist rope pack equipment we had recently been issued with. This resulted in
nearly the entire crew abseiling down from the top of the church tower in what was a truly
unique experience.”
Crew Manager Pete White

“On our cycle ride around every fire station in Hampshire we covered 360 miles over three
days spending around twelve hours a day in the saddle. During the ride we suffered no
punctures or major problems until as we got back to Fordingbridge and pulled into the fire
station two of the group collided on the kerb and ended up in a heap in the drill yard.”
Crew Manager Pete White

“The retirement party for Crew Manager John Mouland was a memorable evening. Around
160 guests attended the fire station and were entertained by a troop of fire eaters and
enjoyed a hog roast and fish and chips. It was a fitting end to John’s service at
Crew Manager Pete White
Memory Lane