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Object of the Fortnight - 1937 Dennis Fire Engine

12 November 2010

As we commemorate 70 years since the Coventry Blitz this weekend, Object of the Fortnight this week simply had to be an item related to World War II, and we thought long and hard about which item we should choose.

Eventually we decided upon the 1937 Dennis Fire Engine which sits in the Factory scene in the Landmarques Gallery. This vehicle belonged to one of Coventry's most prominent machine tool companies, Alfred Herbert, and saw service during World War II, including on the night of the Coventry Blitz.

This model is affectionately known as the 'Flying Pig' because its extended bonnet gives it a snout-like profile (and we hear many of our visitors remarking on its similarity to the fire engine from 'Trumpton'!).

Because it had been used within the Alfred Herbert factory, when we acquired the vehicle it had covered just 1200 miles from new, and the only work needed was a repaint.

The fire engine is fitted with a 400 gallon water tank and has a Dennis manufactured water pump mounted on the rear.  Although slow compared to modern fire appliances this vehicle is very manoeuvrable.  With the front axle being set so far back it has an incredibly small turning circle and can get close to fires in very awkward places.

We chose this item because having done its duty in Coventry throughout World War II, the fire engine went on to serve for many more years, only retiring from service in the late 1970s.

We thought that this item was a fitting representation of the spirit of Coventry, as it rose to the challenges posed by the events of the 1940s and came out at the other end changed forever, but not broken.

Don't forget you can comment on this vehicle on its Facebook page.

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