The Drummoyne Volunteer Fire Brigade had modest beginnings in 1892. It occupied rented premises (basically a wooden shed) on Cambridge Street which was later renamed Bridge Street and today forms part of Victoria Road. There were five volunteer members and one hand pulled hose reel.
The first fire which the brigade responded to was on the 12th December 1892, when a weatherboard summer house in Lyons Road burned down as a result of ‘children playing with matches’.
In 1896 the brigade was able to purchase the Cambridge Street site and built a small brick station. In 1898 a horse drawn manual engine was acquired, as shown in the photograph above.
The present station on Lyons Road, Drummoyne was completed and occupied on 30th June 1910.
Recently, Greg McIlwaine lent photographs and documents from his family collection to be copied and added to Canada Bay Connections.
In 1914 Charles McIlwaine, who had been a fireman at Darlinghurst, bought land at Rhodes as the site for his family home. He founded the Rhodes Volunteer Fire Brigade which at first operated with a hand drawn fire hose. Charles’ son Vic later served as Captain of the Rhodes Fire Station while the position is currently held by his grandson, Captain Greg McIlwaine.
The photograph shows Rhodes firemen about 1930 on a no. 87 Willys-Knight fire engine. Captain Charles McIlwaine is seated in front alongside the driver. Local firm Rider & Bell Pty Ltd, of Cavell Street, Rhodes began manufacturing brass helmets for the NSW Fire Brigade in about 1942, after British helmets became unavailable.
McIlwaine Park at Rhodes is named after Charles McIlwaine commemorating his and his family’s remarkable service to the community across three generations.