The Fire Hall & The Bridges - Ashcroft, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 50° 43.564 W 121° 16.762
10U E 621441 N 5620775
The Old 1919 Ashcroft Fire Hall will be seen on the north side of Highway 97 just after crossing the bridge to enter Ashcroft.
Waymark Code: WM14N6E
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 07/30/2021
Views: 0

In February of 1898 a fire hall was constructed on Railway Avenue about 250 metres to the south. A bell had been procured in 1895 by fire chief James Haddock, at his own expense, and hung between two high posts beside the hall.

On July 5, 1916 a fire started in the Ashcroft Hotel at the corner of 4th Street and Railway Avenue, the fire hall, a block to the north, becoming one of the casualties, though some of the apparatus was saved. Work began on April 15, 1919 for the new fire hall, the cost $360. The wooden building, erected on the site of its predecessor, measured 12 feet by 20 feet, with a 25-foot-high drying tower for the fire hoses. The bell was relocated to the fire hall, where it was in use until 1942, when it was replaced by a siren and discarded.

By 1959 it had become clear that the fire hall no longer met the needs of the fire department, so fundraising began in August 1959 for a new building that would accommodate both a fire hall and a museum. To be built of brick, construction began in mid-October, a few metres south of the 1919 fire hall. The total cost of the building was just over $10,000, with the northern part, with its two bay doors, housing the fire department, and the southern portion serving as Ashcroft’s museum until the former Post Office at 4th and Brink Streets became the museum in June of 1982. The museum portion of the building was converted into office and training space for the fire department.

This building, the 1919 fire hall, was moved to its current location at the east end of the Ashcroft bridge in 1996. The original fire bell had been spirited away by another community, but was eventually brought back to Ashcroft, where it became part of a historic display at the north entrance to the bridge. That display was dismantled in 1979, and the original bell now hangs in a tower at the Lady Minto Plaza on Railway Avenue. An exact replica of the bell was commissioned by the Revitalization Committee in 1996, and now hangs here at the 1919 fire hall.

In 2017 the Village of Ashcroft was successful in receiving grant money to replace the wood siding, install new doors, windows, and trim, paint everything, and install new exterior lighting. Although the hall is not open to visitors, it contains a small display, which can be viewed through a large window on the building's western end. As part of the refurbishment, new storyboards have been prepared which present several aspects of the history of Ashcroft.

This storyboard/heritage marker has been mounted at the northwest corner of the building, to the left of the display window. It tells a bit of the stories of this fire hall and Ashcroft's bridges, and includes a poem on Ashcroft, by Reverend Walter E. Sieber.

In 1898, the Ashcroft Fire Brigade was formed and a building was acquired to house the fire fighting apparatus. This building became a casualty of the 1916 fire. A fire bell, which had been acquired in 1895 by James Haddock and placed at the hall, was rescued from the ashes. Money was raised by public subscription and by 1919, a new fire hall was built on the site of the first one and the bell was again hung at this location.

In 1942, the bell was replaced by a siren, then seems to have lost its way to another town. It was reclaimed after some vigilance by RD Cumming and now hangs above the square near the Fields store. The bell you see on this site is a replica. In 1961, a new fire hall replaced the 1919 one, and in 1993, the old fire hall was moved to its present site. The community of Ashcroft continues to be protected by a volunteer fire department.
The first two bridges were constructed by the San Francisco Bridge Co. The first bridge was built in 1886 and washed out in the high water of 1894. The second bridge was a duplicate of the first and built on the same site in 1895. The second bridge was not built nearly as well as the first, it was said that "they couldn't seem to get it right". It would shake and wobble when an ordinary buggy or horse passed over. A "walk your horses" sign was posted up at both ends. By 1905, it was condemned and a new one completed in July of 1907. Three lives were lost during the building of the 1907 bridge. It lasted for 26 years, with a new steel bridge completed in 1932.
Type of Marker: Cultural

Type of Sign: Historic Site or Building Marker

Describe the parking that is available nearby: Best parking is in the Safety Mart lot, across the street.

What Agency placed the marker?: Village of Ashcroft.

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