The 1912 Belsize Fire Engine christened “Madeleine” was built by John Morris fire engineers of Salford on a Belsize chassis supplied to Morris’ specifications. Belsize were situated at Clayton Park, Manchester, and were better known for their private cars rather than commercial vehicles. The engine is a six cylinder unit in three blocks of two cylinders, and has a capacity of 14.7 litres. Ignition is by trembler coil and magneto to two sparking plugs per cylinder. A solex carburettor is mounted on the offside of the engine, and is gravity fed from the 25 gallon petrol tank under the driver’s seat. Petrol consumption is about 4 miles to the gallon. The drive is via a Hele-Shaw wet multi plate clutch to a combined gearbox and differential. Final drive is by side chains. The main pump is a 600gpm unit driven direct from the gearbox. It is a multi stage turbine unit and has an automatically engaged priming pump mounted behind it.
“Madeleine” was ordered by the Southampton Fire Brigade following exhaustive testing and research into all the models that were available at the time. She was delivered by road from Manchester to Southampton in what must have been a long and fairly arduous journey. At that time commercial vehicles were restricted to 12mph by law and roads were very often in very poor condition. The records tell us that the rear tyres were badly damaged on the delivery journey and had to be replaced by the manufacturer under guarantee. Before she was placed in to active service, “Madeleine” was christened in a ceremony by the Mayoress using her own name. We don’t know too much about her service in Southampton, but it must have been satisfactory as Southampton ordered another John Morris Belsize in 1914.
This time it was a smaller four cylinder version. Around 1926 “Madeleine” was part exchanged with Dennis Brothers of Guildford for a new fire engine. In due course Dennis’s sold her to Billings & Sons Ltd (Printers) of Guildford, to be used as a works fire engine.