On 3rd May 2015, guests including the region’s current fire fighters, were invited to Ferrymead Heritage Park to attend the unveiling of a specially restored Ford V8 Mercury ’45 Fire Engine (No.11). This was the first Fire Truck to respond to the Ballantynes fire on 18th November 1947 – leaving from the Fire House at Lichfield Street.
Sold on to a private owner in 1972, it passed through a few hands before being used as an irrigation pump on an Auckland farm. By 1991, now replaced by an irrigation system, the old engine was rusting away in a field where it was finally rescued without its historical significance being recognised at first. In 2005, it was gifted to the Fire Service Historical Society and returned to Christchurch. It’s taken from then till December 2014 for the restoration to be completed – including its wooden framework.
It will now be housed at the ‘Hall of Flame’ at Ferrymead Heritage Park. Only two fire fighters who fought this fire are still alive today, one riding No.11 to the scene. Unfortunately, they were too ill to attend this ceremony.
This Tilling-Stevens Maidstone ’22 Fire Engine (also pictured) also responded to the Ballantynes Fire.
It is believed to be New Zealand’s first hybrid vehicle – the petrol engine driving a generator that powers the vehicle and the ladder. After its performance at the Ballantynes Fire, a more up to date replacement was suggested. It was replaced in the early 1950’s, becoming part of the collection at the ‘Hall of Flame’ at Ferrymead in 1963.
*photos taken by Annette Bulovic*