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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Everyday Life

Glasgow Fire Service

By Robert H James

Old Close in Gallowgate By 1770 Glasgow's commerce and industry had gathered pace following the Act of Union in 1707 and this economic success contributed in no small way to the acceleration of the town's increasing population. With this expansion came an increasing fire risk. In 1775 an unofficial census of Glasgow's population recorded over 23,000 inhabitants, reflecting the pressing need to improve a fire defence system that still relied principally on six elderly Water Engines.

Guard House, Trongate Glasgow Town Council in 1787 assumed control of the existing Water Engines that had previously been strategically placed around the town. However, this fire brigade was still very much a limited service with repeated reliance to operate the manual water engines being placed on the military based in the town. The fire-drum was beat off from the main guardhouse in the Candleriggs on many an occasion.

City Theatre Council control was to last until 1800 when, with the establishment of a regular police force in Glasgow, the councillors passed responsibility for the fire brigade over to the police. In 1807 the duty of fire fighting was also handed over statutorily to the Police Board, whereby the cost of running the fire brigade was also placed on the police rates.

Theatre Royal With the Police now being the principal force behind the fire brigade, fire-fighting equipment began to show improvement - a pipe-carriage built in late 1815 carried additional items of equipment that the firemen now required to assist them extinguish fires. Water Carts also made their first appearance, transporting comparatively large quantities of water quickly to fires.

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