Open day at Rothesay fire station this Saturday

Rothesay's fire station in Eden Drive was opened on July 28, 1965.
Rothesay's fire station in Eden Drive was opened on July 28, 1965.

Rothesay’s community fire station is 50 years old this week - and a family open day will take place at the station this Saturday, August 1, to celebrate the occasion.

Demonstrations, face painting and a variety of stalls will make the event - between 10am and 4pm - a fun day for all the family, while there will be opportunities, too, to pick up advice on fire safety at home, at work and while out and about.

Here’s how The Buteman reported the opening of the station in Eden Drive, way back on July 28, 1965...

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Happy send-off for new fire station

Rothesay’s part-time firemen were warmly commended for their efficiency and smart turnouts when the Lord Lieutenant of Buteshire, Air Vice Marshal Ronald Graham, opened the town’s new £30,000 fire station on Wednesday afternoon.

After the Lord Lieutenant unveiled a commemorative bronze plaque in the station he pressed a siren button to send the Rothesay brigade, lined behind a distinguished audience in the two-vehicle appliance room, off on a demonstration ‘call out’.

The leading driver grabbed a pull cord suspended from the ceiling, which opened automatic folding doors, and the two appliance vehicles roared out of the station with their crews, to cheers and hand-clapping from those watching.

The vehicles’ two-tone klaxons blared triumphantly as they returned in front of the station a few minutes later.

At the end of the opening ceremony Air Vice Marshal Graham was presented with a polished hardwood cigarette box, with the Western Fire Area crest on the lid and crossed axes and helmet in front, by Station Officer Robert Tait, officer in charge of the Rothesay station.

Air Vice Marshal Graham said he greatly welcomed the opportunity of being connected with something for putting out fires, as a good part of his life had been spent in starting them.

He also recalled his experience as a child when his home in Japan had been burned out. Helping to start off a new fire station, in the county where he now lived, was something which he appreciated very much.

He stated that fire losses in this country in a year had totalled £77 milion, and added that those who owned property owed a great debt of gratitude to the part-time and volunteer firemen who maintained a 24-hour service. Their excellent and efficient new building was well deserved.

The new station at Eden Drive is the first retained fire station in the Western Fire Area to have a hose-drying and drill tower. No longer will hose require to be washed in a public thoroughfare and draped over roofs to dry!

The 20 firemen - one station officer, one sub-officer, two leading firemen and 16 firemen - are on call 24 hours a day and are summoned to fires by the sounding of sirens fitted at the Rothesay Courthouse and at the Pavilion, and also by call bells installed in each home.

The new station also has a watch room, muster bay, office, recreation room and kitchen, toilets with showers, drying room, workshop and stores.

The appliances housed at the new station consist of one pump escape and one water tender. The pump escape, delivered in 1956, is a self-propelled appliance fitted with a Dennis pump capable of an output of nine hundred gallons of water (approximately four tons) per minute, and is equipped with one hundred gallons of water in a tank for use with a hose reel pump designed to deal with small fires, and a wheeled escape ladder having an extension of 50 feet.

The water tender, also a self-propelled alliance, has a Dennis pump output of five hundred gallons (approximately two tons) of water per minute; carrying a 35-foot extension ladder, it is equipped with four hundred gallons of water in a specially designated tank, to be used as an initial source for firefighting until other supplies can be obtained.

Rothesay Fire Brigade was formed some time before the First World War on a retained basis. Before 1910, their premises were at the gasworks in Ladeside Street, and the appliance was a barrow.

In 1919 a steam fire engine was purchased second-hand from Kilmarnock and the brigade moved to premises in High Street, adjacent to Bourtree Place, which they have been occupying until the present time.

In 1914 a 50ft wheeled escape and water tower was purchased, and this appliance lasted until 1944. During 1925-26 the steam fire engine was disposed of and a 250/300gpm Timmini pump was purchased. A pump escape unit with a Barton front-mounted pump and an Austin hose reel tender were supplied around 1942.

During the last war, when the fire service was nationalised, a whole-time unit was established in Rothesay because of the importance of Bute as a naval base. It reverted to retained manning on coming under the control of the Western Area Fire Brigade.

It may be of interest to note that a number of young men from Rothesay are serving as whole-time firemen at fire stations in Renfrewshire.

The contractors engaged on the new Rothesay fire station works were:

Excavator, concrete and brick etc works - John Brown (Strone) Ltd;

Carpenter and joiner works - McMillan and Turnbull, Broadcroft Lane, Rotehsay;

Glazier work - McMillan and Turnbull;

Roughcast work - J.R. Hunter and Sons (B.S.) Ltd, 10 Union Street, Rothesay;

Plumber work - J.B. McEwan, 71 High Street, Rothesay;

Plaster and cement works - J. R. Hunter and Sons (B.S.) Ltd;

Electrical installation - S. Buckeridge and Son, 5 Bishop Street, Rothesay;

Painter work - D.C. Murray and Co., 86 Montague Street, Rothesay.