Today, fire trucks hook up to hydrants, but in the 18th-century water had to be carried by hand. People formed lines known as "bucket brigades" to quickly pass pails from a water source to the fire.
The engine used in this program is a replica of a real 18th-century fire engine. The original is on display at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg!
Patented by Richard Newsham in 1721, this engine was popular due to its ability to spray a steady stream of water as far as 45 yards. It could even punch through windows and reach second floor buildings.
The first recorded use of the Newsham engine in Williamsburg was in 1756. It helped prevent the fire that destroyed Peter Hay's Apothecary shop from spreading out of control.
Resembling a tricked-out coffin on four wheels, Colonial Williamsburg’s original 18th-century fire engine is one flaming-hot antique! This piece is so important to early American history that is part of a rare “stand alone” exhibit, and has been reproduced not once, but twice for actual use in the Historic Area. Richard Newsham’s Fire Engine uses the display of this magnificent machine to explore fire and early fire-fighting techniques.