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Merryweather Steam Water-Pump

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

The fire service is one of London's oldest institutions, dating back to the Fire of London. In 1692 a company that produced fire pumps and fire-fighting equipment was established in Long Acre and went through many owners before it was bought up by Moses Merryweather in the 1830s. It was not till 1876 that the company 'moved to premises in Greenwich’[1],and it was here four years later that Merryweathers' steam water-pump was built. It was pulled by two horses and required a crew of seven men. Bells had not been introduced yet so the person on the drivers right hand side, known as a ‘Hi Hi’[2]man, was given the responsibility of clearing the way by shouting as loud as they could. Whereas the man on the rear of the vehicle was expected to build up a ‘full head of steam' (100lbs p.s.i) en route’[3] in order to be ready to fight a fire.

Unfortunately, the Merryweather factory was demolished. However, their pioneering steam pump deserves a place within HoGblog, where it can be celebrated rather than forgotten. In the twentieth century Merryweather and Sons became ‘Fire Engine makers by appointment to His Majesty the King’ so the company's importance can be seen within the context of the nation as well as Greenwich. They sold fire-fighting apparatus around the world, and Greenwich can be proud of the fact that some of this apparatus[4]was produced locally on Greenwich High Road.


[1] ‘Merryweather and Sons - Graces Guide’. Accessed 25 February 2020. [2] Glencross, Grandfather’s Greenwich. P.21 [3] Glencross, Grandfather’s Greenwich. P.21 [4] Accessed 25 February 2020.

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