Thornaby Corporation Institute / Auxiliary Fire Station

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These buildings are one of the last remaining fragments of the old center of Thornaby that was mostly removed when the A66 was built.
Thornaby Corporation Institute / Fire Station
The carved plaque over the doorway is for the ‘Corporation Institute’ the 1890 Bulmers Directory says “A Mechanics’ Institute was erected in 1865, in which are the offices of the Local Board and School Board” so this may be one and the same.
Thornaby Corporation Institute / Fire Station
Closer examination of the doorway shows it once had a sign for ‘Auxiliary Fire Station’ the name of which suggests it dates from World War 2
Thornaby Corporation Institute / Fire Station

However this old photo shows just the words “Fire Station” and it looks like a fire station existed on George Street soon after the formation of Thornaby on Tees in 1892


Following this link to see a picture of the station in what can be no earlier than 1973, interestingly there still an air-raid siren on top of the building.


11 thoughts on “Thornaby Corporation Institute / Auxiliary Fire Station

  1. The Siren will be part of the Civil Defence warning System. They were all over the place up until the 80s in case of Nuclear Attack. I remember there was one in Brotton, they used to test it every now and then, you could hear it wailing all over the village. My Grandad always ssaid t gave him the shivvers, he remembered it from the War

  2. The 1895 town plan shows a Mechanics Institute on this site and of similar size, so there’s a good chance it’s the same building. It looks to of converted into a fire station quite well.

  3. The sirens on top of the old fire station was used when they called out the firemen for fires. An auxiliary fireman in my old street had a bell in his hallway which rang when ever they got called out, believe the bell was connected to their house phone line so the sirens sounded for the firemen that didn’t have a telephone.

  4. Andy Mellor :

    If you look carefully at that Corporation Institute sign, you can make out worn-down letters that I think say Mechanics Institute. Looks as though they might have re-used the plaque, and carved the new name over the top.

  5. My grandfather was the fire chief of thornaby auxiliary fire service during the second world war and was stationed in this building.

    • Your granddad was a good bone setter and head of St John’s Ambulance service. He was a good friend of my father in law Bobbie Chesworth.

      • Ive just been checking names and dates with my father. He remembers both Bob Chesworth and Jim Speight. My grandfather Norman Sayer joined the auxilliary fire service in 1936. During the war he was turned down for active service as he worked at head wrightsons in a reserved occupation, was in the auxilliary fire service and in the St Johns, although it was only after the war he became fire chief and my father says he didnt become head of the St Johns. You are right about the bone setting, using his St Johns training he did physio work as well. He was also a first aid instructor for the North Riding region. During the fifties Jim was his Sub fire officer and took over from him as chief of the auxiliary fire service when he retired in 1963. After leaving Head Wrightsons he became the steward of the Conservative Club in Thornaby, which is where my father remembers Bob from.

    • My father Tom Robinson was a member of Thornaby fire service during ww11 he also worked at Head Wrightsons I still have his cap badge he lived in Denmark St

  6. My grandad Jim Speight was fire chief there when the photo with the engines in was taken. Remember it all like yesterday .

    • I used to live a few doors away from his shop on Westbury street and can remember running into the shop to tell him that the buzzer had gone off.

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