It may not look like much, but an old barrel and a pump are in fact the remains of a nearly 350 year old fire engine, and they have now been restored ahead of an exhibition about the Great Fire of London.

Originally built in London in the late 1670s by John Keeling, the only surviving part when the Museum of London acquired the fire engine in 1928 was the central barrel and pump.

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The restoration was modelled on a 19th-century photograph of the engine which showed it still intact with its undercarriage, wheels, tow bar and pumping arms.

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The museum says that it worked with a team of long-established coachbuilders, Croford Coachbuilders in Kent, to reconstruct the fire engine using traditional techniques and materials. The wheels, for example, were made out of elm for the hub, oak for the spokes and ash for the felloes, and sealed with an iron tyre.

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Over a period of three months, the various parts were carefully crafted and assembled to fit exactly to the millimetre around the original barrel pump, but also made to easily stand out from the central piece.

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The restored fire engine will go on display this summer as part of the museum’s Fire Fire exhibition about the Great Fire.

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One comment
  1. Ritaa Swift says:

    That old wooden fire engine was originally owned by the town of Dunstable in Bedfordshire where the black and white photo was taken.
    Information has been confirmed with the Museum of London.

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