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How old is your station?
After 110 years in the same building, Beechworth Urban Fire Brigade hopes to be in their new station by the end of the year. Douglas Gavin (Brigade Secretary and Treasurer) wonders how many other stations out there belong to the ‘Century Club’.
Who actually holds the record of 'longest residing brigade in a station'?
With all going well, Beechworth Urban will be in by the end of the year. But seeing the builders put up the temporary fences, clear the site and turn the first sods, it got us thinking: “How old is the current station?”
Had a hunt around the building, talked to tradesmen who have worked on the old girl, and no-one has come across a foundation stone or seen evidence of a date embedded on the front.
Time to search the history books. From the pages of the The Ovens and Murray Advertiser comes information telling us that the highest peak was erected in January 1903 and the station was officially opened on Wednesday 29th July 1903 – as reported in the paper dated 1st August 1903.
Present for the occasion were between seventy and eighty invited guests.
Mr J Fletcher, MLA, officiated as chairman for the opening and on his right was Mr Marshall, Chief Officer and member of the Country Fire Brigades Board, along with Messrs Casey, Pinkerton and Campbell also members of the board. On the left were Cr Trim, President of the Beechworth United Shire Council and Crs Turnbull, Birtles, Billson, Vandenberg, Lowe, Bowen, and Warner, along with shire secretary J W Morton and shire engineer R H Horsfield. Such a large number of board members and propionate townsfolk showed the statue that Beechworth held at the beginning of the 1900’s.
The 21st century sees Beechworth as a tourist town so I wonder if we can pull such an important crowd for our next opening.
The station is still very much as the builders left her in 1903. The meeting room was added around 1907 followed by the storeroom and toilets sometime after that. Panel lift doors replacing the original timber doors and the motor-room floor being concreted in the 1960’s we think. No mention of the residence attached has been found as of yet but it appears in photos from a very early age.
The old girl is 110 years old and still houses its original brigade and successors starting with the Country Fire Brigades Board and the Country Fire Authority of Victoria.
Looking around District 24, no station now comes close to our record number of years in the one home and I wonder how many other brigades can say that they belong to the “Century Club”. In copies of the Brigade Magazine and a recent copy of the Royal Auto Magazine you can see brigades housed in some old stations, but there is no way of knowing which is the oldest.
I would be happy to run a list for any brigade interested in seeing who holds the record of longest residing brigade. I know we are not, as Ballarat has 1855 or 56 across the door, but I would be interested in seeing where we sit.
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