Project fires up

Jim Mitchell with the remains of white-ant riddled timber, currently being replaced by former Angaston CFS volunteers who, along with current members, are helping to restore the original fire unit purchased back by the brigade 18 months ago.

The town’s original 1927 Plymouth fire truck took pride of place at the Angaston CFS 80th Anniversary celebration this year as a monument to the passion and leadership of the brigade’s founding fathers.

Now the mission to restore the red relic to its former glory has been re-ignited as members rally to find $2,000 to fire up the project and get it back on track.

Angaston CFS Life Member and chairman of the brigade’s management committee, Mr Jim Mitchell said he was “gobsmacked” by the interest expressed by those attending recent birthday celebrations with everyone keen to see the historical treasure return to its former glory.

He described the feeling as reminiscent of the early days when prominent townspeople and brigade volunteers came together with the goal of acquiring and fitting-out the Plymouth to serve as a fire appliance.

Whilst the high tech CFS units of today can’t compare to those of yesteryear, the camaraderie within brigade ranks remains as strong as ever with Jim saying that was the “whole point” of buying back the truck when its former Queensland owner was ready to sell.

“It’s come full circle,” said Jim, detailing how, back in the 1940s, Oscar Linke offered the truck to Council for 60 pounds as a “sturdy vehicle” to replace a hand pulled trailer.

“Then brigade members and family worked together to make it a fire appliance,” he added.

Today, decades later, that same Plymouth still unites current and former brigade members.

“It was purchased as a means of bringing us together as a family and having a joint project that we can all participate in…it’s no one person’s vehicle, it belongs to the entire brigade,” said Jim.

“Whether it be painting, woodwork, metal work or mechanics, nearly everybody’s got a talent, an interest or a bent, particularly in the CFS. That’s why I thought this was the ideal project, it is just a way of pulling everyone together and bonding us as a team.

“It’s very much achieving that.”

The Plymouth’s body is in “pretty good nick” for its age, but the wood work was completely eaten away by white ants, except for the spoke wheels that Jim said were saved by the rubber tyres.

“We want to be able to complete the woodwork and mechanics  to make it reliable and then put some tyres on,” Jim said of the restoration plan.

“We haven’t gone asking for help outside the brigade. But, the biggest problem we have as volunteers, is that we have no budget for it and there are certain things that have to be purchased, we have to find the money somewhere.”

Angaston CFS needs $1,000 to replace all the hard wood timber and another $1,000 for new tyres and volunteers are hoping they’ll be able to raise the funds either through a grant or donations.

“Eventually it would be nice to finish restoring the bodywork and paint it one day,” Jim added.

“Initially it’s about getting it going so it can be used in parades and exhibited, but it would be nice to go further with it. At this stage, that’s a long way off.”

Meanwhile, Jim has welcomed the return of a number of historical items from the same era as the truck.

“The belts the original fire brigade members used to wear, I’ve got one of those back again,” Jim said excitedly.

“And we’ve got one of the original dress uniforms that’s come out of the woodwork too.

“It’s amazing how bits and pieces are still out there, it’s just a matter of spreading the word. Anything like that we’d love to get back.”

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