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Mr. Rose of Manchester

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Reports of fires, particularly at cotton mills, filled many column inches in Manchester newspapers in the 19th century. The large concentration of vulnerable cotton mills, and their great height, created a significant demand for men and equipment to fight the fires. These newspaper reports often included mention of the vital part Mr. Rose played in directing the firefighting.

'Mr. Rose' initially referred to William Rose, who was later joined by his son, [1]. The reports rarely gave the particular superintendent's Chrisitan name, but it can be assumed that it was William in the early reports, and Thomas in the later ones. In at least one case, at Bradford Road Mill in 1842, both were in attendance.

From the Press

1828 'ASSAULT. Mr. William Rose, the superintendent of the town's fire engines, appeared to answer to a charge of assault, preferred by a watchman named Jones. Jones stated, that between three and four o'clock this morning, after the extinction of the fire in Mr. Varley's premises, Mr. Rose came to him, and accused him having given him abusive language during the progress the fire. Jones told him he was a liar, and Mr. Rose then knocked him down, and while he was on the ground one of his firemen fell to work and kicked him lustily. Several witnesses were examined on both sides, all of whom concurred in stating, that before any blows were struck, Jones poked his nose right into Mr. Rose's face, and called him "a G—d d—d liar," upon which Mr Rose knocked him down; he did not, however, instigate the fireman to assault Jones, but exerted himself to prevent him from doing so. It also appeared that Mr. Rose was afterwards set upon by four watchmen, who tore his coat and waistcoat off his back ; and for this assault he begged to prefer a charge against the watchmen. The magistrate (Mr. Wright) dismissed the complaints of both parties, at the same time cautioning the watchman against overdoing his duty'[2]

1829 'DISTRESSING FIRE. T WATSON, of 45, Market-street, considers it a duty incumbent upon him to return his heartfelt gratitude to those kind Friends who interested themselves so much on his account, on Saturday night, during the melancholy event; and begs to thank Mr. Rose, the conductor of the Engines, as well the Servants of the Police, for their prompt assistance.'[3]

A horse-drawn fireman's elevator invented by William Rose was described in Mechanics Magazine in 1833. It had been in use for some time. Its platform could be raised to a maximum height of about 40 ft. It was introduced to fight fires in multi-storied textile mills in Manchester, which, unlike tall buildings in cities, rarely had a tall building alongside from which hoses could be directed. [4]

1862 Report on the trial of hand-worked fire engines at the International Exhibition, Hyde Park[5]

1876 'THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF FIRE BRIGADES.
Our last article on the above subject, which appeared in Wednesday's Courier, concluded with reference to the great Tooley-street fire, London. Twenty-two years before this fire a poem was written by one of the London firemen, entitled " The Fire King," in the death of Mr. Braidwood, the superintendent of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, was predicted to take place in a large oil warehouse, in which it actually did occur. The poem waa published in the Town newspaper, and after the fire attracted much attention. In this our concluding article we shall give a brief history of the Manchester Fire Brigade, which was the first in the country permanently employed. One of the earliest records of the brigade was when Mr. Perrins, ex-pugilist, was its conductor, in 1801. 1825 Captain Anthony was appointed to succeed Mr. Perrins, and 1828 Mr. William Rose completely reorganised the system, which was publicly considered a very great improvement. During the superintendence Mr. William Rose, the Manchester Fire Brigade held a leading place amongst the fire brigades of the country. Mr. Rose was very active in the performance his duties, and was considered an authority on the subject of the prevention and extinction of fire. In 1841, the fire brigade received for the first time clothing and helmets. In Mr. Rose resigned and his son, Thomas, who had for some years been educated to the duties by his father, was appointed to the command of the brigade, which continued to increase in efficiency, and was generally admitted to be the best occasionally-paid fire brigade in the kingdom. In 1861 Mr. Rose resigned, and in January, 1862, Mr. Alfred Tozer, the present Superintendent, was appointed to succeed him. At that time Manchester was protected from fire by a force of men, 10 engines, two fire escapes, and two fire engine stations. Owing to considerable increase in the number of fires, the enormous size the buildings to be protected, and the difficulty finding accommodation for the fire brigade, it was resolved to reorganise tbe occasionally employed force, and to increase the number of stations. The occasional brigade was soon after disbanded, and a permanent force established, which present consists of .....'[6]

1885 'NEW STAINED WINDOW IN MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL. A new stained-glass window, which has been placed at the end of the outer aisle of the south-western portion of the Manchester Cathedral, was unveiled on Saturday. Mr. Thomas Rose has borne the cost of the window, and has contributed £150 to the extra cost in fixing it, and an inscription to be placed under it states that it is presented in affectionate rememembrance of the donor's father, Mr. William Rose, who was for 19 years superintendent of the Manchester Fire Brigade….'[7]

1886 'THE LATE MR. ALDERMAN ROSE.
We regret to announce the death of Mr. Alderman Thomas Rose, which took place on Thursday morning at his residence, Tivoli Place, Cornbrook Park, Manchester. Mr. Rose had been in a state of ill-health for several years past. His death removes one of the most genial and popular of Manchester citizens, and a public servant who had rendered good service to the community. Mr. Rose was born in Salford in 1824, and received his education at the school of Mr. Cumbert, held in the Friends' Meeting House, Mount-street, in this city. His father carried on the business of a contractor, and had large and successful dealings with corporations and railway companies. Whilst carrying on these operations he filled the post of superintendent of the Manchester fire brigade. In those days the brigade was quartered in what was known as the town's yard - land which is now covered by the municipal palace which is the chief pride of Manchester architecture. After leaving school Mr. Rose became the assistant of his father in connection with the fire brigade, and was appointed by the Corporation as deputy-superintendent. He was actively engaged on several memorable occasions, notably at the great fire (which was not subdued for a week) at the warehouses in Piccadilly of Messrs. Thompson, M'Kay, and Co., the well-known carriers. On the retirement of his father, who now entirely devoted himself to the business of contractor and fire engine manufacturer, Mr. Thos. Rose was appointed (1847) to the management of the fire brigade. All who were acquainted with the services he then rendered speaking in the highest terms of his work. The superintendence of the fire brigade was resigned in 1862 under remarkable circumstances. The story was familiar enough at one time, though it may now be forgotten. Mr. Rose, having determined to give up his fire brigade work, called at the offices of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company in London to apply for an agency. The request was refused on the ground that the Manchester business was not profitable, and it was stated that fires in this city were so frequent that the company contemplated giving up the branch office. Mr. Rose denied that the number of fires was at all unusual; on which a claim for a large sum just received was at once put in evidence, The superintendent of the Manchester fire brigade was staggered to find that a building which a few hours before he had seen safe and sound was stated to be destroyed. Inquiries were made, a system of wholesale frauds was discovered, and the conviction of the fraudulent party was followed by a long term of penal Servitude. Mr. Rose was soon afterwards appointed to the Manchester agency of the company, a position he retained until his death. Mr. Rose was elected to the Manchester City Council for St. Ann's ward (in succession to Sir Thomas Baker) in 1875. He remained in undisturbed possession of the seat until his election as alderman on the 2nd July last. Mr. Rose was a Conservative, and had a prominent place in the councils of his party. During the first administration of Lord Beaconsfield he was placed on the roll of city justices. Mr. Rose, we understand, has made considerable bequests to local charities, though the bulk of his large fortune will be divided among his relatives, The funeral will take place on Monday at the Southern Cemetery, Withington.'[8]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Thomas Rose
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 16 August 1828
  3. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 28 March 1829
  4. [1] Mechanics Magazine, Volume 19, 27 April 1833
  5. [2] The Engineer, 20 June, 1862
  6. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 19 May 1876
  7. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 3 January 1885
  8. Manchester Times - Saturday 13 November 1886