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Elm Fire Engine House and attached shed

A Grade II Listed Building in Elm, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.6403 / 52°38'24"N

Longitude: 0.171 / 0°10'15"E

OS Eastings: 546993

OS Northings: 306937

OS Grid: TF469069

Mapcode National: GBR M3G.G1H

Mapcode Global: WHJPH.LWMS

Plus Code: 9F42J5RC+49

Entry Name: Elm Fire Engine House and attached shed

Listing Date: 12 August 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1420191

Location: Elm, Fenland, Cambridgeshire, PE14

County: Cambridgeshire

District: Fenland

Civil Parish: Elm

Built-Up Area: Wisbech

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Elm All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Ely

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Single-storey fire engine house, date stone of 1847.


Single-storey fire engine house, date stone of 1847.

Red brick laid in stretcher bond, with some replacement brick to west elevation and slate roof covering.

Small single-cell rectangular plan.

Elliptical headed door opening to front (south) elevation, having early double-leaf timber doors with wrought-iron strap hinges opening outwards on to the road. A sandstone plaque over the door is inscribed ‘ENGINE HOUSE / 1847’. A blocked window opening and two cast-iron wall-ties are evident on the rear (north) elevation. The slate roof has cast-iron and replacement rainwater goods to the north and south elevations.

There are painted brick walls to the interior and a dry earth floor.

An adjoining single-storey single-cell structure abuts the west gable, it is understood to have been built c1850, and is now in use as garden shed. The red brick walls are laid in stretcher bond, with double-leaf timber doors opening to the north elevation, and a blocked door opening to the south elevation. A window opening on west gable, with a timber shutter. The slate roof is serviced by cast-iron and replacement rainwater goods to the north and south elevations. There are painted brick walls to the interior with a dry earth floor.


Although some local communities were providing fire-fighting equipment in the early C17, the oldest listed fire engine houses date from the late C18 and are extremely rare. Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, insurance companies, municipalities and communities strove to improve fire regulations. A Fire Establishment was created in Brighton in 1831, and the numerous brigades in London merged in 1833 to form the London Fire Engine Establishment, operating from thirteen stations. Brigades were organised throughout the country by the police, insurance companies, a variety of businesses, and private individuals.

It is recorded that Elm possessed a parish fire engine in 1834, and it is likely that Elm Fire Engine House (dated 1847), may have replaced an earlier engine house in the village. Purpose built in 1847, the engine house accommodated a horse-drawn, hand pumped appliance. From the 1850s, the first reliable steam powered appliances were adopted by brigades, and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act of 1865 saw the increase of fire stations in the capital and throughout the country. Elm Fire Engine House was requisitioned as a storage facility by the Elm Home Guard and War Office during the Second World War, and Elm Parish was paid compensation for its war time use.

This former fire engine house stands adjacent the main road (B1101) in Elm village, with its double-leaf timber doors opening directly onto the road. The engine house lies in close proximity to the Grade I listed Church of All Saints to the south. The engine house is contemporaneous with many red brick houses, ancillary structures and boundary walls in the immediate vicinity, including Halfpenny House to the north east (Grade II). It is likely that the adjoining red brick structure, now in use as a garden shed, was constructed c1850. The timber roof structure of the engine house may have been replaced in the early twentieth century, and its slates re-laid at this time.

Reasons for Listing

Elm Fire Engine House, dated 1847, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Rarity: as a rare surviving example of a fire engine house built before the great age of fire station construction in the 1860s;
* Intactness: as a largely unaltered example of a mid-C19 fire engine house;
* Group value: for the strong group value it holds with the Grade I listed Church of All Saints and Halfpenny House (listed at Grade II);
* Historic interest: for the fire service it provided the local community from the mid C19.

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