Model of a manual horse-drawn fire engine, made by

1815-1825 in England and London

Model of a manual horse-drawn fire engine, made by W. J. Tilley, London, ca. 1820.

This is a model of a horse-drawn manual fire engine. Until the development of mechanical pumps, teams of men operated fire engines by working the pump handles up and down. In the early nineteenth century the construction of manual engines was refined, and greater use was made of horses to tow them to the scene of the fire. One of the leading makers was W. J. Tilley of London, a firm which in 1851 became Shand, Mason and Company. It is believed that Tilley made the model at the same time as the full-size engines. If so, then they may have made it for salesmen to use for publicity purposes. Its subsequent history is unknown, but in 1932 it formed part of a collection of fire engine models brought together by Mr. W. J. Perkins of London. In that year the Science Museum purchased it from him.

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Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

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Object Number:
Mr. W.J. Perkins

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