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Inspection of Paisley Fire Brigade by Provost and Councillors (clip)

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This film from 1933 shows the inspection of Paisley Fire Brigade by the Provost and councillors. It features a firefighting demonstration using horse-drawn vehicles as well as some unusual acrobatic stunts on top of an extension ladder performed by Firemaster Girdwood and his men. The need for positive and family friendly PR may be explained by the fact that the Glen Cinema disaster of 31 December 1929 in which 71 children died would be fresh in the onlookers minds. This clip features shots of: firemen being inspected by civic dignitaries; a parade of the latest fire-fighting equipment; demonstration of a rescue using standard and extension ladders; acrobatic stunts at the top of the extension ladder; final of the Pump Drill 'competition for prizes presented by Baillies J.W. Erskine and T. Ballantyne; fire pumps leaving the fire station; and the demonstration of the use of fire hoses. Musical accompaniment was added to this clip as a soundtrack in 1996 by the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive with music composed and played by Forrester Pyke.

Questions & Activities


  • Why did the fire brigade make this film?
  • How would the fire brigade be called in the early 1930s?
  • When was the 999 emergency number introduced?
  • What does the arrival of a new fire engine say about Paisley's civic pride?


Organise a visit to your local fire brigade and make your own film about your visit, either silent or using sound. What would you ask a modern fire fighter about their job?

Visit the Riverside museum in Glasgow or find an appropriate website and look into developments in fire fighting technology and techniques over the last eighty years.

Research the Glen Cinema disaster in Paisley of 1929 and the connections between this event and the need for the fire brigade to reframe itself using a film that would be shown in local cinemas.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-161-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 1071
Date 1933 (film shot)1996 (soundtrack added)
Genre Advertisement, Promotional
School Subject Social Studies, History, Health and Wellbeing, Sciences, Technologies
Subject Matter Literacy
Who Firemaster Girdwood (acrobat), Macrae & Drew (filmmakers *attributed), Paisley Fire Brigade (sponsor)
Where Paisley
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 4:34
Film Length 6:00