The Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) was formed in 1866 after insurance companies told the government they were unwilling to be responsible for London's fire protection due to escalating compensation costs.
The Metropolitan Police were originally chosen to take control of the MFB but it was decided this would be too complicated and the Metropolitan Board of Works was given the responsibility.
The headquarters for the MFB was at Southwark Training Centre and the Chief Officer lived in Winchester House, where our museum is located today.
Captain Sir Eyre Massey Shaw became Chief Officer of the MFB and changed it significantly. He established a new rank system; introduced a new uniform that consisted of a brass or silver helmet and woollen tunic; built new fire stations and introduced advanced technology to improve the service.
He brought in steam fire engines that could pump, on average, 300 gallons of water a minute. They were well equipped for putting out fires - as long as the boilers were kept warm enough to raise the steam.
Horses were used to pull the engines and they were housed at the station with the firefighters. Sloping floors in fire stations allowed engines to move out more easily - this was called 'on the run', a term still used today.