Then and now: Fire station’s red sliding doors close for good

The Snainton fire crew in 1939, and below, today.The Snainton fire crew in 1939, and below, today.
The Snainton fire crew in 1939, and below, today.
AS THE nation made preparations for war, fire crews across the country were placed on standby for the expected onslaught from the skies.

Among those expecting to share the burden of wartime duties were those on duty at the newly-opened Snainton fire station, between Pickering and Scarborough.

A grainy black and white picture dating from 1939 reveals nine firemen, neatly turned out in their tunics and belts, proudly standing in front of a fire engine which to modern eyes looks like an antique.

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Now, 70 years on from those momentous times, the fire crew at Snainton has lined-up for a modern-day version of the picture which will be the last to be taken at the station as it this time marks the closure of the base after serving its rural community for many decades.

The last crew, from left are Paul Nicholson, Mike Horsley, Mark Welburn, Mike Eyre, James Risker and Robert Corney.The last crew, from left are Paul Nicholson, Mike Horsley, Mark Welburn, Mike Eyre, James Risker and Robert Corney.
The last crew, from left are Paul Nicholson, Mike Horsley, Mark Welburn, Mike Eyre, James Risker and Robert Corney.

Rob Corney, one of the retained firefighters at the station, said: “It’s just sad that the station has gone.

“It has been a big part of the village of Snainton.”

The station was rebuilt once since its opening but in December North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority backed closure plans after the building was deemed to be no longer fit for purpose.

It is the first closure of a fire base in North Yorkshire since a station at Whixley, near Boroughbridge, shut in the 1970s.

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The county’s brigade is battling a cash crisis amid funding cuts from Westminster, but senior fire officers are adamant the decision was not centred on cost-cutting measures.

The closure of the station is part of a county-wide review which has seen three other bases at Grassington, Summerbridge and Danby spared the axe in the past two years.

But estimates suggested it would have cost £600,000 to build a new station at Snainton and fire cover will now be provided by appliances in Whitby, Scarborough and Sherburn.

The station’s six remaining on-call firefighters, responding to emergencies from their home or place of work, completed their last shift on Easter Sunday.

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There was fierce opposition to the changes and a six-month campaign was mounted by the local community amid concerns that yet another rural service was being lost.

Coun David Jeffels, who represents the Derwent Valley ward on Scarborough Council, said: “It does seem that this is a trend that is happening nationwide that small stations are being closed, basically I am sure because of budget cuts.

“Its another rural service that we are losing, we have lost a lot over the years and people are paying substantial tax to the fire service and they are getting a diminution of that service.”

He is a member of the Rural Commission, and he has taken the issue to its policy group which he hopes will lead to further pressure to protect other rural fire stations faced with the axe because of Government cuts.

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Fire chiefs say the Snainton area was identified as having a low fire risk.

But Coun Jeffels says a potential potash mine development in the North York Moors near Whitby could lead to more traffic using the A170 and A64 roads and he believed the role of the Snainton was likely to become even more vital to the area, not less so.

Mr Corney, now working as a firefighter with the Ministry of Defence, said the base on High Street in the village was a well-known local landmark.

Its workload had been varied from helping pump out properties and streets awash with floodwaters, to attending car accidents and moorland fires, as well as helping other crews.

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He added: “The crew would like to say thanks to all the public that gave their support to keep the station.”

Nigel Hutchinson, the brigade’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “We are aware that some members of the community will feel apprehensive about the loss of the fire station and the service will continue to work with the local community to provide reassurance.”