Then & Now

Fire Brigade – Then & Now

Fire Brigade on Upper Rosemary Hill
Fire Brigade on Upper Rosemary Hill

This Then & Now comparison shows a photograph from 1883 of Kenilworth Fire Brigade posing with their manual pump fire engine on Upper Rosemary Hill. At the time, the brigade’s engine house was situated round the corner, fronting onto Savage lane (now Richards Close). The subsequent engine house stood at the mouth of Richards Close, fronting onto Rosemary Hill itself.

Robin Leach’s book Victorian Kenilworth and its People (Rookfield Publications, 2006) uses a version of this image as its cover illustration. The image credits on the inside cover say it was one of a pair of images of the brigade presented to Captain Earnest Trepplin as a mark of respect. The book also contains considerably more details on the history of the brigade and its various engine houses, for those wishing to read more on the subject.

Behind the fire engine in the ‘then’ image is a cottage which was subsequently pulled down and replaced with a building which has seen various uses, including as council office, the original home of Kenilworth Library and also the room used for early KHAS meetings. Harry Sunley’s A Kenilworth Chronology (Odibourne Press, 1989) states that these premises were “built at a cost of £1600, including the land” in 1886.

Left of enter in both images is the Grade II listed Number 8, Upper Rosemary Hill which is described as “C18. Red brick; 2 storeys; 2 flush casements, cambered arches. Canted bay each side lower storey, each with boxed bay window. Recessed 6 fielded panelled door with moulded panelled wood canopy. Corbelled brick eaves; 2 gabled dormers; old tiled roof. 1st floor moulded band”.

At the rear of the ‘now’ image the 1940 extension of the Working Men’s Club can be seen, now the Kenilworth Sports and Social Club. The club moved to these premises having initially utilised the bowling green at the back of neighbouring Montague House. You can read more of its history on Robin Leach’s website.

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