Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Village Life; and then there was none.


                            Résultat de recherche d'images pour "old fashioned fire engine"

My native Surrey village of Lingfield was a small and close-knit community back in the 1950's. I didn't know all of the residents, but they all knew me, and always greeted me by name.

During the school holidays I would occasionally go to watch either the village Football or Cricket teams playing. The village Football pitch was quite near to our home, but the Cricket pitch was a reasonable cycle ride away on the village outskirts.

On several occasions (mid-game) the village fire siren would sound in the distance, and ALL the members of the Lingfield team would run to their bikes or cars, and disappear. It just happened that all our (volunteer) Firemen played either Football or Cricket for the village teams. The visiting teams would then be left alone on the pitch, wondering where the hell everyone had gone.

We children would take to our bikes and try to follow the clanging fire engine to watch them extinguish the fire. It was all great fun; except (of course) for the poor person who's house or barn was burning down, and presumably for those visiting teams who'd had their game cut short.




40 comments:

  1. My husband remembers as a little kid in the '60s riding his bike behind the "mosquito trucks" that would fog the neighborhood at dusk on summer nights. A little boy peddling through a spray of poison fog....and no one batted an eye!

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    1. A few years back I watched some kids running behind my neighbour's tractor as he sprayed with weed killer. He did nothing; just carried on.

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  2. They still rush to the station and you can see their vehicles left all over the place where they stopped and jumped out. No siren these days, i supppose they get a message alert of some electronic nature.

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    1. Aren't they all pro's these days?

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    2. No, not here. This is Norfolk you know. We still have retained firemen in rural areas.

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    3. Same over here in the backwoods.

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    4. Still plenty retained firefighters here in blighty. We have retained stations a mile and two miles from us and a full time station 3 miles away. The guys from the next village often have to leave whatever game they are playing to jump on the pump. The difference is that a child on a bike couldn't keep up with them!

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    5. I seem to remember that when we lost them, we'd either listen for the bell or look for smoke. Often they escaped us.

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  3. Here they are all pro, they are using the siren which is very confusing in war time.(last war the goverment considered to change the siren into a icecream van siren...)ed

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    1. What would the ice cream vans then change to?

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    2. We dont have ice cream vans here so no problem.

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  4. Life was so much simpler in those days, wasn't it. The days before there were multi-million pound footballers, cricket was a gentleman's game, and there was no need for drugs tests.
    Oh, and the sun always shone all summer.

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    1. Yes, the only drugs these players used was a cup of tea or Horlicks.

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  5. REALLY FOUL DAY HERE TODAY. It's been raining all morning, and I still haven't taken Bok out for his morning walk. He'll just have to cross his legs until it stops.

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    1. Same here. Absolutely atrocious. So much for the dry east.

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  6. Tis a pity such village life is becoming extinct in the name of progress.

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    1. 'Progress' isn't always progress.

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  7. I expect this sort of thing is still true in some places Cro. Our little town has a fire engine manned by volunteers. They all seem to be cricketing age to me.

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    1. I'm sure it does still happen. Our firemen here are all volunteers, and run off as soon as the siren sounds.

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  8. How simple life used to be but, I guess things have to move on ...... I can just see the visiting team totally confused as to what was going on !!!!!
    Our friends are at their house in Lectoure and have had one week of rain so far ...... looks like a sunny week next week though .... you will be able to get out and start digging Cro !! XXXX

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    1. It's just stopped raining and is looking brighter (some sun even). I think this announces the start of some decent weather for a week or so; I'll be able to get the rotovator out. Hooray.

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  9. It is all volunteer in my town and the alarms are so loud that they can be heard for miles. No one follows the fire trucks anymore probably because the kids would have to put down their electronics and move.

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    1. The fire engines probably go a bit faster these days too.

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  10. Our emergency service went full time a couple of years ago. In the past they all had emergency lights on their trucks or cars, and came racing past on on their way to the station when they had a call. Now the station is staffed twenty four hours a day with shifts.

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    1. Did I read somewhere that you have to PAY to call the fire service to your home in the USA?

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    2. I've never heard of that!

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    3. Probably some 'urban myth'.

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    4. Fires are free; you have to pay to ride in the ambulance if you have no medical insurance. Young people especially resent this. Old people like me wonder why they have paid lift fees, purchased ski gear, purchased electronics and then complain when they need the medical insurance they thought too expensive, before the ski accident.

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  11. We had a crazy neighbor who 'thought' he was a policeman/fireman. He went so far as to own two beastly attack dogs, which were released upon us kids each time we went out to play--in our own backyard. Firetrucks always send a slight chill down my spine, even though they are meant for good. I just can't help but think of our neighbor, and the day he managed to snag a real fire engine and parked it right in front of our house. Cuckoo. But your story is nice. I liked it.

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    1. Sounds like a good thing that you moved. Creepy and/or nasty neighbours should be locked up.

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  12. In the small coastal town my wife grew up in they are volunteer and still alerted by the big siren mounted on top of the city hall building next to her late fathers theater.

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    1. Sounds like it's still the norm all over.

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  13. When I was a child, the local county fire station was manned by volunteers. They sold Christmas trees in December to help fund their operation. I have no idea if the county itself provided the actual station and two trucks.

    I don't think there were too many fires. I know there was no cricket or soccer!

    Best wishes.

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    1. Our firemen come round with calendars for sale around Christmas. I always give them a healthy sum; it's best to have them on your side!

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  14. I didnt do cars when i was a boy but i did have a small fire engine like this one.......funny but i never thought about it since i was say 10

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    1. I think the above is roughly what they were like when I was small.

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    2. Yes, Cro, I remember the old Dennis fire engine well. That one is from the 1950s.

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  15. They have lowered the decibels on all sirens here for acoustic pollution - my son is an ambulance paramedic volunteer and says now days people have high music in their cars and don't hear the sirens sometimes. Greetings Maria x

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  16. Oddly I was in the small town of Opotiki (pop 4,100) and the sirens went off incessantly. The fire engine appeared having driven a couple of hundred yards to the shop from whence the alarm had emanated. Having checked everything they returned to the fires station and their jobs and life presumably returned to normal. It was exactly like the 'old days'.

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