By Karl-James Langford

THIS week's offering stems from a childhood memory. I vaguely remember a big fire at the spot where the multi storey carpark is at the junction between Court Road and Holton Road.

The fire was one that engulfed the police station, alongside the old fire station at Court Road; so I was told. There is irony there. And other than a group of burnt out buildings that is where we will start. But if you know more about the fire please write in.

This week I sent my intrepid young explorer Peter Sampson - who was treated with an ice cream afterwards - to take a photo of the Old Fire Station, which I hasten to add is now called 'Trumpton House'; this is not a reference to Donald Trump by the way. Now the fire station is the home to a residential conversion, with old stairs still a retained feature inside.

There was much talk of this Edwardian fire station of yellow locally manufactured brick of a Cadoxton site, with red brick detail, simply in the 1980s and 1990s being pulled down. After all, that was the fate of most Barry and District monuments back then.

Decay had truly set in. Its clock tower was in a dangerous state, with internal flooring missing, and slate and lead missing off the roof. But the revival by its owners has to be applauded. It is also of grade II listed status, as a monument worth preserving.

As previously discussed the Barry Urban District Council had been placed under increased pressure to establish a specified fire station for the ever growing town. There was no sign of one between 1884 to 1900; instead police had the responsibility of putting out fires. But, the police - as they were then and are today - were over stretched and felt that enough was enough.

By 1899 a volunteer fire brigade was established with the aim of releasing pressure on the police force within the Barry and District; however some of its members continued to be serving police constables. A certain J. G. Walliker in June 1899 was the new fire fighting teams very first captain. And with open arms, the volunteer fire brigade found its new home at the fire station at Court Road.

Now Mr Karl-James Langford would you have been a volunteer?

Well, watching the old Will Hay films from the 1930s, in his 1939, Where's That Fire, the appeal of riding on the new Court Road horse-drawn engine has an appeal. But it was one engine, the building could hold three such appliances. And in 1908, all hands were needed to fight a devastating fire at a Barry Timber Yard.

The response had been inadequate. But being Barry nothing changed. One horse drawn engine was all we had, until the fire of 1913 which took the wooden Barry Theatre up in flames. Suddenly a motor driven fire-engine was purchased. And now the building at Court Road was brought into a serious footing, and more fires could be dealt with more promptly.

There were plans before the conversion into flats for the three storey old fire station to be moved to St Fagans Museum. The building is still with us in The Barry and District and - although the fire practice building at the rear has been removed for safety reasons - the old fire station is a fine piece of Edwardian architecture. The lead pavilion tower roof a marvel; with railings still in place of a fire viewing platform. And we can see efforts in the restoration of replicating the original sash windows, and that is in keeping with the buildings character.

Enjoying our Barry and District, more next week.