Bringing Bexhill’s Merryweather Home

Merryweather fire engine

Bexhill fire crews from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and Bexhill Museum have launched a fundraising bid to help restore a historic fire engine – and we would like your help.

Once promised to Bexhill Museum in 1920 after years of service to the town, Bexhill’s 1895 Merryweather horse-drawn, steam powered fire engine went on its travels elsewhere, and now more than 100 years later it’s finally coming home.

Eddie Izzard with Bexhill firefighters and the original 1895 Merryweather.
With Eddie: Bexhill firefighters Louis Thompson, Engineering Services Manager, Matt Harquail, Asset Coordinator, Tom Walker, Vehicle Build Officer and Darren Green, Equipment Manager.

Bexhill fire station and Bexhill Museum are now planning a refurbishment programme before it goes on display permanently at the museum.

It needs some decent works on its wheels & chassis to make it safe for display, and a little more to make it roadworthy for riding round the town on Carnival Day. Because of the specialist works needed, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service firefighters and Bexhill Museum are looking to raise £15,000 to pay for its professional restoration. Bexhill-on-Sea Town Council have kicked off the fundraising campaign with a grant of £3,000. Local actor & performer Eddie Izzard has also pledged her support for the project.

But that still leaves a sizable amount still to raise. If you would like to help us, you can donate directly to the fund on our GoFundMe page here, or just call by the Museum and we can collect you donation over the counter.

The then Earl De la Warr bought the pump in 1895 for the founding of a town fire brigade and it served Bexhill proudly until it was replaced by a motorised version in 1920. The plan was then to put it on display in Bexhill Museum, which had just reopened after WWI, but Bexhill Council appropriated it for flood response work until 1935, when the boiler finally gave out after forty years’ sterling service to the town.

When a new fire station was built in Beeching Road in 1974, the fire brigade couldn’t take the machine with them, so Bexhill Council let it go and in 1984 the machine was loaned to the Fire Service National Museum Trust. The Trust recently wound up and so we are privileged to have this amazing piece of history back with us, after a 700 mile round trip to collect it.

The plan is to put it on display in the museum, but once a year roll it out with a pair of horses, as was the tradition at Bexhill Carnival every year from 1895 to 1974.

Steam fire engine and crew.
The Merryweather in action.

Station Manager Keith Morris said: “When you see the Merryweather next to our current fire engines, it’s clear to see how much the fire and rescue service has changed. It’s a real privilege to be part of efforts to bring it back home and restore it.”

Bexhill Museum Chair of Trustees Sally Hemmings said: “The Merryweather’s arrival in 1895 was a historic moment for Bexhill. It served the town faithfully for decades, and it richly deserves a professional restoration to its past glory – and a place of honour in Bexhill Museum.

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