Reply To: Fire-engines aboard RN ships in 18th-19th centuries

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    I am indebted to Justin Reay and Tony Beales for their help. RN ships do not seem to have been equipped with fire-fighting apparatus on a regular basis, but at least two RN officers developed pumps for this purpose, and I would like to find out something more about them if possible. Can anyone with access to C18th Navy Lists offer any information about Lieut Jekyll RN (guess about 1790-1805) and Capt Fisher RN (probably about same time).

    Falconer mentions a Lt Jekyll who modified the ordinary ship’s pump, converting it into a force-pump, and there is a full description of this arrangement in The Operative Mechanic and British Machinist vol. 1, John Nicholson, 2nd American edn. Philadelphia, 1831, pp. 270-3.


    Falconer also refers to a pump built almost entirely of wood, by Benjamin Dearborn. This is described and illustrated in Repertory of Arts and Manufactures vol.III, p.119 and Plate XII, London, 1795. Judging by its appearance, it was a pump of the van der Heiden/Newsham pattern, and would have been ill-suited to marine use.

    Not mentioned by Falconer is a Captain Fisher RN, who planned to use a small Newsham fire-pump. From its description, in Hebert’s The Engineer’s and Mechanic’s Encyclopedia vol I, London 1836, it would have looked very similar to the machine used aboard USS Constitution.