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999 ENGINES FIRE THE IMAGINATION; Visitors flock to see old emergency vehicles.

Byline: Duncan Gibbons NEWS REPORTER

A DISPLAY of emergency vehicles through the ages has opened at Coventry Transport Museum.

Fire engines, ambulances and police cars from different eras from around the country can be seen until the summer.

They include Coventry's first motorised fire engine from 1914 and a 1980s Metropolitan Police Austin Metro that later featured in The Bill.

Among the visitors on the opening day were former Coventry firefighters, Fred Tunstall, Tim Brannagan and Nev Stynes, who chalked up 90 years' service between them.

Fred, aged 72, of Chauntry Place, in the city centre, joined Middlesex Fire Brigade in 1961 but moved to Coventry in 1964.

"Coventry was one of the top brigades in the country, with the best equipment, and housing was supplied with the job," he said.

Admiring a 1960s Dennis F8 machine - powered by an eight-cylinder Rolls-Royce engine - Fred said: "It was cutting edge at the time.

"With all the equipment and hundreds of gallons of water on board, it took a bit to get going, but it was very reliable."

Coventry had its own fire service until it became part of the West Midlands in 1974, but crews still provided cover for places like Rugby, Leamington and Kenilworth.

Fred said: "Back then there was a great social life, but all of that's gone now.

"There was a social club with a bar and sport was very important. We played cricket and football."

Tim, aged 65, was in the service from 1969 to 2000, while Nev, 82, served between 1951 and 1981.

Other fire appliances include a simple 18th century 'parish' pump that would have been stored in a local church for people to use in an emergency, to horsedrawn pumps and early 20th century steam-driven pumps. The 1914 Dennis was later based at the GEC factory in Stoke during World War Two.

Other vehicles on display include an Austin Princess ambulance, a 1949 Bedford KZ ambulance and a paramedic motorbike.

As well as the police Metro, there's a 1977 Triumph 2500TC and a Peugeot 208.

CAPTION(S):

ALL ABOARD: Isaac and Archie Funnell try out a 1914 Dennis fire engine at the transport museum open day

ROLLING BACK THE YEARS: Former Coventry firefighters, from left, Fred Tunstall, Nev Stynes and Tim Brannagan with a Dennis F8 fire engine

WHERE'S THE FIRE? Larissa Grantham,Rebecca Grantham and Michelle Fox on a 1929 Dennis fire engine

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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 26, 2013
Words:402
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