Doves of Fire

£5.00

By Terry Beresford

ISBN: 978-1-84747-865-8
Published: 2009
Pages: 59
Key Themes: autobiography, fire brigade


ALSO AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK

Description

Coming Soon

About the Author

Terence Beresford was born in Romford in 1946. He lived and went to school in Rainham, Essex. On leaving school, he had various jobs – mainly building and construction work. In early 1966 he applied successfully to join the London Fire Brigade. Three months later he was serving as a fireman at F27 Bow, where he stayed for four years and was the Mess Manager.

He then transferred to F29 Leyton, where he attained the Leading Fireman written examination and was qualified in driving. Transferred to F22 Poplar, he passed his Leading Fireman’s practical and “acted up” at most of the ‘F’ Division stations.

Promotion came and C26 Barbican was his station, six weeks later he transferred back to ‘F’ Division Millwall. In fact he now had all service qualifications. After short spells as Sub Officer at Bethnal Green and Poplar, Terry transferred to F21 Stratford, Blue Watch, as long term Temporary Sub Officer. Eight happy years and the Royal Humane Society Award saw Terry leave for F23 Millwall, and only weeks after, transferred to Red Watch ‘F’ Division Headquarters following injury. Serving two years at ‘F’ Divisional Headquarters Staff saw him finish up as Sub Officer Fire Prevention Branch, Stratford. After exemplary service, he retired in 1985 with injuries received.

Book Extract

The end – the end of the line. Fenchurch Street Railway Station, London. E.C.1. I’m nearly there. My heart thumped. “Could I do this which is asked of me?” I thought. A short walk to Tower Hill underground station. Ten minutes later, my final stop. Borough, South-East London. Into the lift and out onto the street. It was quite dark, November you see. Following remembered directions from my interview, I progressed along Lant Street, another of Dickens’ abodes, he certainly got around. Turning right into Southwark Bridge Road, I neared my destiny. Pass or fail, I will have tried and kept my word to the man who had trusted me in this career – his career.

“I won’t let you down” I said, and wouldn’t, as this book will tell. The man’s name? Albert Smith – Station Officer, London Fire Brigade, my best friend Terry’s father. A rough diamond, but a man I had respected since I was a lad of around 13 years old. He recommended me for this career, knowing that I had had many jobs since leaving school. I was only 19 and I was going into a real man’s job. My uncle – Stan Hooks, British Empire Medal, served for 30 years and on his retirement was the Fire Service National Benevolent Fund Secretary for the Eastern Command area of the London Fire Brigade. As a child he was my hero, my favourite uncle. Now I’ve given you a clue to my goal – a career as a London Fireman.

I crossed the main road and could now see a large archway – the entrance to the London Fire Brigade Training Centre. Training goes back to the nineteenth century here, when Eyre Massey Shaw was the Chief Fire Officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in 1866 – its formation. Prior to this, it was the London Fire Engine Establishment and the Chief Fire Officer was James Braidwood, from the City of Edinburgh Fire Service. Massey Shaw was a good friend of Edward – Prince Regent – Queen Victoria’s son. He attended and fought many fires alongside the firemen, who were mainly recruited from naval seamen.

Me? No such background, but I was here now. I slipped a little as I entered the cobble-stoned yard through the arch. Perhaps I was distracted by the 70-foot drill tower immediately in front of me. A modern, grey monolithic structure of seven floors, out of place here, I thought. The surrounding buildings and the other tower were much older. The buildings consisted of four floors and a basement and were Victorian. It was as if I’d gone back in time. My thoughts were interrupted by a voice. “Good morning lad. New recruit?” “Y-yes” I said nervously. “Fireman Beresford, reporting for duty sir”. “Well done. Follow me” he said. His name was Station Officer Swanton, and he was the Administrative Officer at the centre. I noticed his fingers – they were bent inwards. He suffered with arthritis – a very common condition in firemen even now. He asked me into the office, and put the kettle on. “Come far?” he asked.

“Rainham, Essex, sir”. I thought how nice he seemed, not like how I imagined. There weren’t many like him, and it didn’t take long to find out. A knock at the office door, a polite “Come in” from the Station Officer, and a lad entered and said “‘Ello boss – I’m ‘ere”.

“Well done,” said Station Officer Swanton “but what is your name?” “Sorry mate. Evans – Graham Evans. Alwight?” The Station Officer shook his head and smiled. I was later to find out that Station Officer “Charlie” Swanton was nearing retirement and had served for many years at the Southwark Station, which was one of the busiest in London.

“Sit down Mr. Evans. Station Officer Clark won’t be long. He’s your instructor for the next sixteen weeks. Call him ‘Sir’ lad, or else”, he quipped. It was now 8.45am and the room had swelled with bodies somewhat since I’d arrived. No one spoke, just waited. Not for long. A man in uniform entered the room. All of 6 foot, in a cap depicting a Guardsman’s peak over his eyes. This was Station Officer Clark. He was notorious as an instructor, and gave little quarter. “Do it, or you’re out” he often said. This man proved to be a total bastard, and I believe he’d never had a recruit failure, and was proud of that. “Good morning lads” he said. He then introduced himself.


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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 12 March, 2009.