Fringe Box



Guildford Snippets – Do You Know? No.17

Published on: 26 Aug, 2018
Updated on: 14 Aug, 2018

by Nick Bale, Guildford Town Guides

The picturesque public toilets building on the corner of North Street and Ward Street was originally built in 1872 to house the town fire equipment.

Guildford fire station when in North Street.

The building has a tower fitted with a clock and a bell, but the bell was not intended to chime the hours.

What was the bell meant to be used for?

If you know the answer, please leave a reply in the box below. The answer will be given in a week’s time with the next Guildford question.

You can find out more about Victorian Guildford on the guided walk on Tuesday, August 28, on the walk starting at Tunsgate Arch at 2.30pm. 

The answer to last week’s question was b): Dennis Brothers produced 700 Churchill tanks during the Second World War, as well as thousands of other specialist vehicles for the war effort. 

Visit for further information.

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Responses to Guildford Snippets – Do You Know? No.17

  1. John Lomas Reply

    August 26, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Presumably at that time firemen were part-time or even volunteers so the bell would have served to summon them to the station for a “shout”, when I was younger the sirens did this for part-timers (retained firemen), nowadays it is done with pagers.

  2. Steve Grove Reply

    August 28, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    The bell in the North Street fire station was to summon the horses for the horse-drawn fire appliance.

    I was told, many years ago, that a great uncle of mine had a cab business in Guildford and kept horses in a field somewhere near where the old Surrey Advertiser building would later be built in Martyr Road.

    On hearing the bell they would gather at the gate to be led to the fire station to be harnessed to the fire appliance.

    One day (so the story goes) the gate was open and the horses arrived at the fire station before the firemen!

    There is a tiled mural in the gents of the fire station as built in 1872. There is a film of a call-out at Shere fire station in 1899.

    The building still exists as a public toilet, which is preferable to it having been demolished.

    Search “1899 fire brigade turn-out in the country”.

    • David S Butterworth Reply

      June 7, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      Steven Grove didn’t go to Hurstpierpoint College by any chance, did he?

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