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Banchory club launches restoration appeal after discovery of 1858 fire pump

Banchory club launches restoration appeal after discovery of 1858 fire pump

At first glance, it doesn't look anything special.

The wooden frame has a rickety appearance and the wheels have rotted off.

But when you notice the words "Shand & Mason", you can begin to understand why so many people in Banchory are excited about the discovery of one of Britain's oldest fire pumps.

This device - which firefighters had to operate by hand during the Victorian era - dates back to 1858 and is emblazoned with the name Banks O'Dee.

Now, a campaign has been launched to restore the machine to its former glory, after the pump was passed on by retired firefighters Dennis Scott and Alistair Murison to the Rotary Club of Banchory-Ternan.

We caught up with Alistair to find out why this device is so special.

  (Dennis Scott)
via STV via STV
  (Dennis Scott)
via STV via STV

He told us: "This is a piece of history and we think it was gifted to the town [of Banchory] by one of the landowners in the region at the time.

"You are going back to a period long before there were national services and when local communities had to organise their own safety vehicles.

"Dennis purchased the fire pump from the estate of former owner, George Strathdee Jnr, with the intention of restoring it. But this won't be done quickly or cheaply.

"However, I think it is worth getting behind the project. Another pump - named "Merryweather" - by a different maker is on permanent display at Culter Heritage Centre, it dates back to 1866, and attracts plenty of interest from those who visit the centre.

"But the "Banks O'Dee" is even older, it has strong connections to the north east of Scotland, and it well worth preserving."

  (Dennis Scott)
via STV via STV

Dennis Scott shares Alistair's relish for these relics from a bygone era.

And, as somebody who has already helped restore several old fire engines from the 1950s and 1960s, he loves the idea of travelling back to the previous century.

He told us: "I'm keen to see the "Banks O'Dee" returned to its rightful place in Banchory, and fundraising is ongoing.

"When I took possession of it, it was clear it had had a hard life, with the woodwork suffering the worst.

"But all the metalwork has survived for a restoration project to be carried out."

"I know, from my own experience, that retrieving these objects from the past is a labour of love. But I always get a thrill when I go down to the garage and look at them."

Dennis' labour of love helped save fire engine from scrapheap

Read More

Alistair accepts that returning the pump to its former glory will cost thousands of pounds. But he isn't deterred by that consideration.

As he said: "Banchory people are proud of their history and heritage and I believe this is part of it."

"We will need to talk to a wheelwright about bringing their expertise on board, and I think we have to press on with this as soon as we can. But I'm confident we will do so."

The fire still burns brightly in these fellows.

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