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1725 Newsham Manual Fire Engine. English, ca 1725

Used in northern England. Acquired by museum in 1970.

Richard Newsham patented this style of engine in 1718. His company built most English fire engines during the 18th century. The American colonies imported a large number of Newshams for their own fire companies. The engine uses a twin cylinder single acting pump equipped with an air chamber. Because reliable hose was unavailable in the 18th century most Newsham engines used a metal spout like the one shown or used a short length of leather hose connected to a branch pipe.  Water was provided by a bucket brigade which emptied buckets into the hopper at the engines rear.  The engine also came with a suction fitting which could draft water from a cistern or portable dam. A lever allowed the engine to use either buckets or suction, but not both at the same time.  Pump handles called brakes powered the pump.  A pump of this size could employ about 12 men. In addition a pair of treadles mounted to the pump”s quadrants could be moved up and down by two or three men standing upon them, grabbing the two horizontal bars for stability. 

This type of pump with treadles was called a bedpost style because of its resemblance to a bed.  The pump could be pulled by hand or loaded onto a wagon for horsed drawn transport.  Newsham pumps were very well made and often remained in service for several decades.  This machine was purchased from an antique dealer in London who had no real information on its use and origins.  It can pump about 80 gallons of water at a rate of 60