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SIREN CALL - London Fire Brigade archive represented by Mary Evans Picture Library

Mary Evans Picture Library, the UK's leading resource for historical images is delighted to announce representation of the London Fire Brigade archive, a major collection tracing the history and heritage of the LFB from the late 19th century to the present day. The archive holds extensive documentation of the fire service in London and is a fascinating record of the development of fire-fighting equipment and techniques and of the history of the brigade itself.

The London Fire Brigade can trace its origins back to 1666, when in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London, insurance companies established their own fire brigades with a view to limiting damage caused by future fires. In 1833, the insurance offices amalgamated to form the London Fire Engine Establishment presided over by the pioneering Chief Officer, James Braidwood (who sadly lost his own life in the Cottons Wharf fire in Tooley Street in 1861). A new chapter was written when, in 1866, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade was created, with the responsibility for fighting fires passing from private insurance companies to the state. Under the eagle eye of Captain Eyre Massey Shaw, the number of stations and recruits increased, as did the technology employed by the new Fire Brigade. Shaw's first act after taking control was to purchase six new steam fire engines, while the introduction of fire alarms and wireless telegraphy speeded up response times. The worsening political climate in the 1930s led to the formation of the Auxiliary Fire Service in January 1938, a volunteer organisation to supplement the Fire Brigade in the event of war. Women were accepted into the service for the first time, and the AFS proved invaluable throughout the Blitz.

The first batch of over 2000 images from the archive includes many evocative photographs of fire-fighting during World War Two, as well as horse-drawn fire engines and other early equipment. There are also interesting scenes of the destructive 1936 fire when the Crystal Palace was burnt to the ground, while modern photography brings us right up to the 21st century, with the attempted rescue of a whale stranded in the Thames in 2006 of particular note. More material will be added online regularly from the hundreds of thousands of negatives and prints in the London Fire Brigade Archive.

"We are very pleased to be the exclusive picture agency representing the London Fire Brigade, " says, Paul Brown, Managing Director of Mary Evans Picture Library. "Their vast holdings not only cover almost every aspect of fire-fighting over the years, but offer an alternative perspective on some of the most significant historical events in the capital over the past 150 years. The addition of the London Fire Brigade collection to our library continues our commitment to bringing unique and specialist archives to a wider image buying audience".

Images from the London Fire Brigade archive can be seen at www.maryevans.com with a tailored selection available to view here.

For further information, or licensing queries, please contact:

Paul Brown
Mary Evans Picture Library
59 Tranquil Vale
London SE3 0BS, UK
T: +44 (0)20 8318 0034
F: +44 (0)20 8852 7211