One of my roles is as a member of the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Authority, and as part of that, I receive many of their press releases. Lots of them are important – fire safety, don’t set fire to yourself at a barbecue this summer, we’re closing this hotel because we think it’s horribly dangerous, that sort of thing.
But this pair are just nice human interest stories, so I am bringing them to you in full. They sort of have “… And finally…” all over them.
BUILDERS DIG UP PIECE OF FIRE SERVICE HISTORY
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is hoping to track down a mystery firefighter who buried his own time capsule in the foundations of Bulwell Fire Station more than 60 years ago. The fire station on Cinderhill Road was built in 1944 but was replaced by Stockhill Fire Station in 1966.
Last year the building was torn down and, as work was being carried out on the foundations, builders discovered a rusted metal tin. The tin contained a National Fire Service button and a hand written note stating it had been buried on 21 September 1948 by Fireman Booth of the Nottingham City Fire Brigade.
The National Fire Service (NFS) was the single fire service created in August 1941 during the Second World War. The service was the result of the amalgamation of the wartime national Auxiliary Fire Service and the local authority fire brigades. It existed until 1948, when it was split by the Fire Services Act 1947, with fire services reverting to local authority control.
The builders who discovered Firefighter Booth’s time capsule handed it over to staff at Stockhill Fire Station but so far details about his life have remained a mystery. Community Safety Advocate Michael Ellis, who is based at Stockhill, is hopeful that more can be found out about him. “It’s such an intriguing story and it’s strange to think the tin and its contents have been buried for more than 60 years,” said Michael.
“Because the NFS was only around for such a short period of time, it’s really nice to have found this piece of history. It would be brilliant if we could find Firefighter Booth, if he is still alive, or even members of his family. It’s such an interesting time in the history of the fire service and it would be great to be able to hear stories about life as a firefighter in the 1940s.”
And the happy conclusion to the enquiry
MYSTERY FIREFIGHTER COMES FORWARD
A former firefighter has been reunited with a time capsule he buried in Bulwell Fire Station more than 60 years ago. Jim Booth, who now lives in Ratcliffe-on-Trent, buried a tin containing a National Fire Service (NFS) button and a hand-written note stating it was buried on 21 September 1948. The tin was dug up last year, when the Cinderhill Road site was torn down and, after local media interest, Jim has now been tracked down.
After serving in the Army during the Second World War, Jim started his career as a firefighter at Central Fire Station before transferring to Bulwell. The station had been built in 1944 and in 1948 Jim and a colleague had been asked to build a fireplace by the officer in charge. Said 89-year-old Jim: “We were filling in a space at the back of the fireplace with rubble and, on a whim, I just decided to put something in there. I found the tin and wanted to put a newspaper in, but didn’t have one to hand so I wrote a note on a piece of paper, put the button in and then chucked it in there. It wasn’t something I’d planned to do and I only did it on the spur of the moment. I’ve not thought about it for 60 years and I certainly didn’t expect to see it again.”
The builders who discovered the time capsule handed it over to staff at Stockhill Fire Station where it raised a great deal of interest due to the unusual NFS button. The NFS was the single fire service created in the UK in August 1941 during the Second World War. The service was the result of the amalgamation of the wartime national Auxiliary Fire Service and the local authority fire brigades. It existed until 1948, when it was split by the Fire Services Act 1947, with fire services reverting to local authority control.
Jim said he was surprised by the ‘kafuffle’ the discovery of the tin caused and his wife, Betty, said the rest of the family were more excited by it than he was. She said: “One of our sons saw it in the paper and phoned us to tell us what had happened. A couple of days later our youngest son saw the story on the television. He phoned up and said ‘mum, daddy’s famous at last!’”
Jim has kindly donated the time capsule and its contents to Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and it will now be displayed at the Service’s museum at Mansfield Fire Station.