Ask a Curator: What’s your largest object?

Ask a Curator: What’s your largest object?

Our largest object, by far, has to be our Wedgwood Fire Engine.

Nothing could devastate factory production, or risk the lives of employees, so much as fire on the works. Josiah I therefore ordered a ‘one-third’ sized fire engine from Samuel Phillips, engine maker of New Surrey Street, Blackfriars, London, in October 1783. The total cost of the fire engine including fixtures, fittings and transport to the Etruria factory, was £58 18 shillings and 3 pence.

The fire engine was manned by factory workers. This photograph, dating to 1914, shows them posing in action with the engine, which was still in use at the time.

Each year, the fire engine had to be tested by an inspector from the Board of Trade to ensure that ‘…it will shoot a good jet [of water] over the highest building on the works’.