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Fire Museum thanks local family for loaning vintage fire engine

A vintage fire engine built nearly 100 years ago has been added to Essex Fire Museum's collection.

The 1930 Albion Merryweather, which has had a colourful history and is believed to be one of the last remaining in existence, has been loaned by a local family.

William Edwards, who worked in the commercial vehicle trade in south Essex, bought the Merryweather engine more than 40 years ago for his personal collection. He passed away two years ago.

His daughter, Kim Juniper, and grandchildren, Mark and Victoria, visited the museum, based at Grays Fire Station, to hand it over.

Mark said: "My grandad kept it at the end of the garden but he was always to busy to get out with it. It's a lovely vehicle; you won't see another one in that kind of condition.

"The volunteers said they are looking forward to using it and working on it, It's great to know people are going to get some enjoyment out of it."

Built in 1930, it operated in and around Ware in Hertfordshire up until the Second World War. It was used by the National Fire Service in London during the war and returned to its original duties at Ware when the war ended.

It was taken out of service in 1948, but it's story had hardly started! Dick Brittain, from Benfleet, who owned a transport firm Essex Carriers, bought it in 1958 to enter into carnivals, rallies and festivals. He restored it to working condition, scouring Essex fire stations for replacement equipment.

He entered it in the London to Brighton vehicle rally in the late Fifties and early Sixties. The engine appeared in two films, the Galloping Major and the Faithful Carrier, featured many times on TV and was used by publicity agencies.

It was eventually sold to another collector and then made its way to Mr Edwards.

Dan Bailey, Heritage and Volunteer Lead at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We're very excited and extremely lucky to receive the Albion Merryweather fire engine.

"Our volunteers are more than a little excited with the new arrival and can't wait to start tinkering with the engine and polishing it up.

"A huge thank you to Kim, Mark and Victoria for loaning us the fire engine."

Essex Fire Museum will celebrate its 15th anniversary this June. It is one of a small number of fire museums in the country and is accredited by the Arts Council.

The museum is supported by a team of volunteers who give tours, carry out research, write articles and maintain more than 6,000 exhibits.

You can find out more about Essex Fire Museum at: www.facebook.com/EssexFireMuseum

The next open days at the museum are on Tuesday 17 May and Sunday 29 May. Please email museum@essex-fire.gov.uk to book a visit.

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