It used to be a normal sight to see Fire Alarm Stands in various streets in the town. In case of fire you broke the glass panel and pulled the alarm handle to call the Brigade but, because of many false alarms through vandals, also the telephone becoming more readily available, they were taken out of use.
A new station was built at the rear of the Town Hall and professional firemen employed alongside the volunteers. In 1950 a move was made to find a site for a new modern Fire Station. Eventually the present site in the High Street was chosen and planning permission granted by the MCC. By a strange quirk of fate, this meant pulling down among other properties, Abbott Brothers offices in which, without much doubt, the seeds for a Fire Brigade were first sown.
Today, 1982, with a staff of 52 working in four shifts with ultra modern HCB Angus Fire Engines, one pump and ladder, one pump, each carrying 201 different kinds of equipment costing approx.. £40,000 each and electric Teleprinter to record, in triplicate, all incoming calls, the alarm call will have the engine on its way within three minutes. The station has a mess-room and social room above, and the usual pole for the firemen on call to slide down for duty. Gone are the days of the fireman’s nice brass helmets. Now they are made of compressed fibre.
The brigade now comes under the control of The Greater London Council.
The Local Newspapers
The first local newspaper was published as The Southall News and was edited by Mr C. Abbott. The estimated circulation was 500 copies selling at a halfpenny per copy. It relied on its advertisements which cost 1/0 (5p) per inch. This existed between 1885 and 1888. Mr Abbott passed over the paper on September 7th, 1887 to new editor and proprietor Mr W. H. Wheeler of the Market Place, but it ceased publication on January 11th, 1888. Perhaps this was because another paper, The Southall-Norwood Gazette, had come into being. This was one of a number of local papers published by Kings Printers of Uxbridge. They opened offices in King Street and High Street. The paper sold at one penny per copy and, as the town grew, so did its circulation. Under the guiding hands of Mr G. Smith, editor, and Mr E. Weeks and Mr Rigby, roving reporters, local events were very well covered. (There was a change just after the first world war to King and Hutchings as proprietors.)
When Lord Kitchener’s Recruiting Campaign was in full swing in 1915 both Gazette offices were used as Recruiting Offices.
The name of the paper was changed to West Middlesex Gazette and a move was made to 53, South Road. On Saturday, 4th May, 1935, they issued a Royal Jubilee edition in which they gave Southall’s development over the past 25 years, featuring some of the outstanding events from 1910 to 1934. Soon after the amalgamation of the boroughs the South Road office was closed and the business transferred to the Mall in Ealing. Now, in 1982, we again have the Southall Gazette (not one penny per copy, but 15p [2/6d]) in which, except for crime, Southall news is very sparse.