Alfred Samuel Shawyer.

Firefighter, trainer, boxer.

Alfred Samuel Shawyer had a 38 year long career with London Fire Brigade. Born in Wandsworth, South West London on 1st October 1907, he would eventually rise to the rank of Assistant Chief Officer. As well as a firefighter, he was an accomplished sportsman and boxer.

Career at London Fire Brigade

After joining London Fire Brigade in 1928, he was keen to progress and in 1935 was promoted to an Officer. With the outbreak of the Second World War, and the subsequent formation of the National Fire Service in 1941, he was appointed as a Column Officer. He was involved in firefighting during the Blitz. In 1944 he was commended for rescue work when a flying bomb caused five people to be buried under a building. After the war he resumed his service in London Fire Brigade.

Shawyer was awarded several medals for his service. This included the Defence Medal, the King`s Police and Fire Service Medal, and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. In 1958 he was presented with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire). He was still keen to progress in the Brigade and rose to the rank of Assistant Chief Officer.

Training and a family tradition

Before he retired in December 1966 after 38 years service, Shawyer had been in charge of overseeing all recruitment, promotion and training schemes within the Brigade. On his retirement Chief Officer Leslie Leete praised him as being a popular Senior Officer and respected as a first-class firefighter.

His family had the rare distinction of having four brothers all serving together in the Brigade at the same time. Alfred was the eldest, and with brothers Harry, Robert and John they had a total of over 100 years in the Brigade and were well known for their service particularly in South London where they mainly worked.

Boxing and sporting success

Alfred was keen on boxing from a young age and was an amateur boxer before joining London Fire Brigade. He continued boxing in his early days in the Brigade and trained at the Old Goldsmiths Amateur Boxing Club. In 1933 he became ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) middleweight champion.

In 1934 he won a gold medal in middleweight class in the British Empire Games (forerunner of the Commonwealth Games). He represented England in the first official international boxing event against Norway in Oslo, in 1935. In the same year he travelled to New York, where he won a match in the prestigious Golden Gloves tournament.

Olympics and the Albert Hall

He was in the squad for the 1936 Berlin Olympics but did not participate. He had 18 major Amateur fights and won 12, many of which took place at the Royal Albert Hall. The war interrupted his boxing career but he remained involved in the sport. In 1942 he took part in the London Fire Force Sports for 36 Area at the West Ham football ground.

Shawyer passed away on the 13th May 1971 age 63. He will be remembered both for his dedication to protecting Londoners during his career and his boxing achievements.

This article was researched and written by museum volunteer Alan F.

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