Lewisham Fire Station:

And the history of firefighting in the area.
Lewisham Fire Station In Around 1900

Lewisham Fire Station in around 1900

The first fire station in Lewisham opened in 1899 and was known as Ladywell Fire Station. As part of a building programme by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade to increase the coverage of fire stations. In 1908, now under London Fire Brigade (LFB), the station housed a steam-powered fire engine, a horse-drawn escape, a manual escape and a hose cart. It was crewed by a Station Officer, eleven Firefighters and two Coachmen who cared for two pairs of horses.

The fire service during the Second World War

Lfb And Afs Firefighters Marching Together Along Lewisham High Street In 1940

LFB and Auxiliary Fire Service firefighters marching together along Lewisham High Street in 1940

The Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) formed nationally in 1938. This was part of the Civil Defence Service and was designed to increase firefighting resources in wartime. Ten AFS substations were attached to Lewisham Fire Station, and these were set up in schools and hospitals.

A Unit From The Substation At Lewisham Bridge School Elmira Street Attending A Training Exercise In The Local Area In Around 1944

A unit from the substation at Lewisham Bridge School, Elmira Street attending a training exercise in the local area in around 1944

In 1941 the National Fire Service (NFS) took over from the AFS to coordinate the organisation and resources of fire brigades across the country. Britain was divided into fire force areas and Lewisham Fire Station became part of Fire Force Area 37, number 5 region (London).

Bomb damage near the Clock Tower in Lewisham High Street, following a bombing raid on 18 September 1940

After the war

The NFS was disbanded in 1948 and Lewisham Fire Station then returned to local authority control as part of LFB.

Lewisham fire station, located at 340 High Street, in the 1960s

Lewisham fire station, located at 340 High Street, in the 1960s

With the establishment of the Greater London Council in 1965 many outer London brigades became part of LFB. With a larger area of responsibility, the Brigade was organised into 11 divisions. E Division was part of the Brigade’s Southern Command, located south of the river Thames and included the areas of Greenwich, Lee Green and Bexley.

The new fire station building

A new fire station was commissioned and opened in 1967 on Lewisham High Street. In addition to providing fire cover, it became the headquarters of E Division which transferred from New Cross Fire Station.

The former fire station building then became home to fire prevention staff.

The appliance room with two Dennis fire appliances and an emergency tender in 1967

The Hither Green train crash

Within two months of opening, firefighters from Lewisham Fire Station were heavily involved in the Hither Green train crash, one of Britain’s worst rail crashes on 5 November 1967.

Several carriages of a 12-carriage train were derailed, and many passengers were injured or trapped. More than 120 firefighters attended the scene and sadly, 49 people were killed and 78 injured.

An investigation into the accident discovered that it was caused by a rail that had fractured, leading to rails being made to a new specification going forward.

The fire station today

Lewisham Fire Station In 2009

Lewisham Fire Station in 2009

The station is crewed by a Station Officer, a Sub Officer, two Leading Firefighters and ten Firefighters who respond to a variety of incidents including fires, flooding and road traffic collisions. It houses a pump ladder fire engine and a Fire Rescue Unit (FRU).  

The FRU can attend a number of incidents across London, where specialised rescue techniques are needed. Including dealing with hazardous substances or the extended use of breathing apparatus are required.