London Fire Brigade

Horsed escape van

Wheeled escape ladders were first introduced by the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire in 1836.

They were positioned on street corners and were operated by an escape conductor.

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade took over street escape stations in 1866 and the first horse-drawn escapes were introduced in the 1890s.

The horse harnesses had large bells attached to them, which along with the shouting of the crew, warned of the approaching fire engine.

As motor traffic grew on London's streets, a more positive warning was required and large fire engine bells were fitted to all appliances after 1908.

Technical information

  • Crew: four firefighters and one coachman
  • Equipment: 50 ft (16m) wheeled escape ladder, rescue lines - later versions carried a 40 gallon first aid tank and 80ft (24m) of small diameter hose
  • Pumping capacity: N/A
  • Speed: 10mph
  • Engine: N/A
  • Fuel: N/A
  • Manufacturers: N/A


Share this page


Have you seen