Friday 30 January 2009

Merryweathers - more news from Waltham Abbey

We have been sent the following news about an exhiit from Greenwich at Waltham Abbey - below is part of the signage proposed:

Merryweather Two piece Wooden Ladder

The two section wooden ladder was donated to RGPF by the Cole family. Les Cole was a long serving member of the Safety Section at Waltham Abbey who rose to Chief Safety Officer. The origin of the ladder is obscure, but it is thought that it was never used at Waltham Abbey. The ladder is typical of ones used during the period between 1860 and 1900 on hand carts or horse drawn carts which carried fire fighting equipment to incidents.
The name plates appear to be up to 150 years old and could be made of ivory. The firm’s address may be a telegraphic address ( Fire engine works London).
The rungs are circular and secured with wooden wedges. The highest rung is hollow and has a metal rod riveted through from end to end. The sides of each ladder taper inwards towards the top so that the bottom of the upper ladder fits tightly over the top of the lower one. Extra rigidity is provided by shaping the top of each ladder to locate under the bottom rung of another. Since each ladder is fairly short we assume that six or even more of these sections would have to be joined together to scale burning buildings.
The company name dates back to approx 1830 when Moses Merryweather took over an existing company from his uncle. The company started in around 1690 making fire fighting pumps on Cross Street London, and the first fire engine factory was built in 1738 on the corner of Bow Street and Long Acre. This later became a showroom and manufacture moved to Lambeth in 1862 and also opened in Greenwich in 1876. Three sons of Moses Merryweather joined the company and towards the turn of the century. One of them, James, became responsible for international sales. Internet searches tell us that Merryweather and Sons were "Fire Engine Makers by Appointment to His Majesty the King", and sold fire-fighting apparatus to many cities around the world. By 1913 its machines were being used across the UK, in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Burma, Egypt, India and Singapore and China.” The firm fell upon hard times after WW2 and the Art Deco factory in Greenwich High Road was demolished as recently as July 2008.

No comments: