Reunion rekindles the past for Bradford firefighters

former Bradford fireman Gordon Redmond points to his name on old  control panel

former Bradford fireman Gordon Redmond points to his name on old control panel

First published in News

After more than 50 years, firefighting history was brought vividly to life as former Bradford crew colleagues were reunited.

And the catalyst for the poignant get-together was the discovery of an old brass mobilising control panel from Nelson Street – once the city’s central fire station.

The panel still bears the names of former firemen above switches which linked to bells in their homes surrounding the station site.

And it is now proudly on display at a newly-opened fire service command and control centre in Leeds.

Interest was sparked when the Telegraph & Argus carried a story about how the time-tarnished and blackened panel was restored to its former glory by two serving firefighters.

People with links to the Nelson Street past went to the new centre to see the old panel and share precious memories.

Of 17 names on the panel – which dates from the 1950s – only four are still alive.

Two are brothers Gordon and Leonard Redmond. Gordon, now 79 and living in Cleckheaton, enjoyed the trip down memory lane, recalling the ‘good times’ of Nelson Street.

Firefighting was very much in the Redmond family. Leonard, 78, of Odsal, was a firefighter, as was elder brother the late Geoffrey Redmond. Their father, William, was in the national fire service and mum, Lilian, was a cook for the crews.

Gordon’s son, Paul, who worked in control at the service’s Birkenshaw HQ, also joined the reunion, as did their former neighbours at Nelson Street, Alan and Brenda Darby. When their house became an office, Alan’s name was removed from the panel.

He recalled: “If extra appliances were needed, firemen who lived around the station were called in. They would ring the bells four times to let us know we were needed.”

Clive and Nigel Foster grew up around Nelson Street and went to the new centre to see the name of their father – the late Harold Foster – on the control panel.

Clive, 66, of Wibsey, said: “If the bell rang four times, my dad had to report for duty. Happy, happy days.”

Nigel, is now 60 and lives in Great Horton.

The Bradford station was replaced on the same site in the late 1960s. Nelson Street had its own control room, but when West Yorkshire Fire Service was formed in 1974, control shifted to Birkenshaw.

Bradford's main station is now in Leeds Road and the site occupied by the fire stations in Nelson Street has become a school.

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