In East Street, Banwell there is a building which housed the town’s fire engine from the late 19th century until the 1980s. The inscription over the main door reads as follows:
“This building is presented by Miss Fazakerley of Banwell Abbey and Fazakerley House, Lancashire, being the property of Banwell for ever to be used for the housing of the fire-engine belonging to that Parish. 19th Day of December 1887 in the year of the Jubilee of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria.”
Miss Emily Fazakerley was a wealthy, generous and eccentric lady. She was born on Anglesey in 1840 and later lived at Denbigh Castle in North Wales. She moved to Banwell for health reasons in 1883 but died in 1888 at the age of 48. She was buried in London.
Miss Fazakerley paid for a new horse drawn fire engine and for uniforms for the crew. She also provided instruments and uniforms for a village brass band. The new fire engine replaced the wooden-wheeled hand-drawn machine, which was made by James Manley of Redcliffe, Bristol in 1810 and stored in the nearby church. The 1810 fire engine had two reciprocating 4 inch bore and 8 inch stroke pumps. It could deliver 44 gallons of water per minute to a height of 80 feet. Four men were needed to man it and many volunteers forming a bucket chain were required to refill the engine’s reservoirs with water.
The fire engine house also had a rest room and the fire bell, which was used to summon the firemen from their homes and workplaces, is still hanging on the roof.
The building is still used by the Banwell and District Volunteer Fire Unit.