Formerly the works fire engine of brewers Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton,1913 Merryweather  Fire Engine   Chassis no. 3507 Engine no. 1872 W
Lot 1209
1913 Merryweather Fire Engine
Registration no. E 2152 Chassis no. 3507 Engine no. 1872 W
Sold for £74,300 (US$ 123,477) inc. premium
Lot Details
Formerly the works fire engine of brewers Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton
1913 Merryweather Fire Engine
Registration no. E 2152
Chassis no. 3507
Engine no. 1872 W


  • Able to trace its origins back to 1692, Merryweather & Sons is the oldest name in the manufacture of fire-fighting equipment. It was in 1807 that a 14-year-old Yorkshire lad named Moses Merryweather was taken on as an apprentice by the old-established firm of fire engine makers Hadley, Simpkin & Lott, which had its roots in a maker of "fire squirts" founded in Long Acre some 25 years after the Great Fire of London: in 1836 Moses married the niece of company owner Henry Lott, and took over the company when Uncle Henry died. Always in the forefront of development, particularly after Moses' son James Compton Merryweather took control in 1877, the year after the firm had opened a new factory in Greenwich to cope with increasing demand, Merryweather & Sons became predominant in the manufacture of fire-fighting equipment.

    While horse drawn steam fire engines had been the order of the day in Victorian times, Merryweather built their first self-propelled steam fire engine in 1899, and followed it with their first petrol-driven fire engine incorporating a pump, an entirely new type of machine, as early as 1904. Like all the early Merryweather motors, it had a chassis and engine built by Aster of Wembley, an offshoot of the French Aster company, whose engines were used by many early motor manufacturers.

    This particularly Merryweather-Aster fire engine spent many years in the service of the brewers Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton of Burton-on-Trent, though that company declared that prior to the engine coming into their possession circa 1920-21, it was believed to have been used on a local estate connected with the Bass business.

    Powered by a pair-cast four-cylinder L-head Aster engine displacing 8588cc, this impressive engine has a Braidwood-type body and a Merryweather "Hatfield" pump delivering 360 to 400 gallons per minute. It is equipped with a two-section double-row trussed John Morris "Ajax" ladder extending to 30 ft.

    Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton sold it to Langley Mill Commercials of Nottingham for scrap in 1963, but fortunately it came to the notice of the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club and Michael Banfield immediately paid a deposit of £10 to save it. The purchase was completed and the Merryweather acquired on 9 September that year. Back at Nunhead Lane, it was completely stripped down and meticulously restored to 1913 specification. This included making a new set of solid-tyred wooden wheels to replace the pneumatic-tyre wheels fitted during World War Two. Some of the missing parts came from the stores at Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton, others were located by a diligent search.

    Its first public outing was the 1966 HCVC London-Brighton Run, when it not only won first prize in the fire engine class, but also won the trophy for the best pre-1919 vehicle and was declared outright winner of the concours d'elegance. "It was just impossible to fault any part of this fabulous rebuild," wrote Bill Boddy of Motor Sport.

    Almost 50 years on, this magnificent pre-World War One fire engine still lives up to Bill Boddy's accolade: it is, quite simply, fabulous.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

Like the vast majority of auctioneers Bonhams charge what is known as a Buyer's Premium. Buyer's Premium on all Automobilia lots will adhere to Bonhams group policy, 25% up to £50,000 of hammer price, 20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 of hammer price, and 12% on the balance thereafter.This applies to each lot purchased and is subject to VAT.

Some lots may be subject to VAT on the hammer price. These lots will be clearly marked with a dagger (†) printed beside the lot number in the catalogue.

Buyers are reminded that from 1 Jan 2012 for Motor Cars and Motorcycles a 15% Buyer's Premium is payable on the first £50,000 of the final Hammer Price of each Lot, and 12% on any amount by which the Hammer Price exceeds £50,000, Buyers' attention is drawn to Condition 7 of the Notice to Bidders in the online and printed catalogues.

VAT at the standard rate is payable on the Premium by all Buyers, unless otherwise stated.

Collection Notices

Collection dates and times for purchased Automobilia lots from the sale venue.
Friday 13 June 12:00 Noon - End of Automobilia Part 1
Saturday 14 June 9:00 - 19:00
Sunday 15 June 9:00 - 17:00
Monday 16 June 9:00 - 12:00 Noon

All purchased lots must be cleared from the sale venue by 12 noon, Monday 16 June.
All un-collected purchased lots shall then be removed to Bonhams storage facility at:
Unit 1 Sovereign Park, Coronation Road,
Park Royal, London, NW10 7QP
and will be available for collection from 10am Monday 23
June 2014 by appointment only.

To arrange collection please contact the Automobilia Department 020 8963 2842 or to make an appointment.

All lots will be charged £10+VAT uplift and storage at £1+VAT per day per lot from 23 June 2014.

All lots marked with a ◊ will be charged £25+VAT uplift and storage at £5+VAT per day per lot.

All lots marked with a ◊◊ will be charged £50+VAT uplift and storage at £10+VAT per day per lot.

All lots marked with a ◊◊◊ will require specific shipping and storage arrangements, as they are either extremely large or heavy objects.

Please contact for further information.
Shippers or Agents wishing to collect on behalf of the purchaser must provide written instruction from the client before Bonhams will release the lot(s).

All purchases are at buyers risk from the fall of the hammer.

Motor Cars
Vehicles must be collected from the sale venue on the evening of the day of the sale or by 12 noon on Monday 16 June. Buyers should satisfy themselves that they have collected all relevant log books, documents and keys
relating to their Lot(s) at time of collection.

Otherwise Lots shall be removed to storage at the Buyer's expense (see below). Lots are at the Buyer's risk from the fall of the hammer. It is strongly advisable that overseas purchasers and absentee bidders make arrangements regarding collection with Bonhams in advance of Sale.

Removal and Storage of Vehicles
All Lots not removed in accordance with the above will be transported by Bonhams to a local store.

With the unique nature of each and every vehicle in this sale, uplift and subsequent storage will be by individual arrangement with Polygon Transport. See below for their full contact details. It is recommended potential purchasers make contact with Polygon before bidding.

Transport and Shipping
A representative of Polygon Transport, will be at the Sale and can arrange national and international transportation as agent for the Buyer or the Seller (as the case may be).

Polygon Transport
Unit 2H North Road
Marchwood Industrial Park
Normandy Way
Marchwood, Southampton
Hants SO40 4BL
02380 871 555
02380 862 111 fax

Vehicle Insurance
Hagerty International Limited
The Arch Barn
Pury Hill Farm
NN12 7TB
0844 824 1134

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

  1. Customer Services (UK)
    Customer Services
    Work +44 20 7447 7447
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7401
  2. Motor Cars (UK)
    General Enquiries
    Work +44 20 7468 5801
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5802
  3. Toby Wilson
    Specialist - Automobilia
    Unit 1, Sovereign Park
    London, United Kingdom NW10 7QP
    Work +44 20 8963 2842
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2802