Rare engine comes to town

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By John Keast

She is bright red, powerful, has its own 100ft German ladder and has saved lives.

And it is in Ashburton.

A group of Ashburton fire engine enthusiasts has bought a fully functioning – and rare – British 1953 Dennis F14 fire engine.

It served new with the Wellington Fire Brigade, and has a German-made Metz ladder.

The engine was de-commissioned several decades ago and was owned by two Canterbury collectors before it came to Ashburton.

The syndicate plans to use the appliance to support the newly expanded Ashburton Fire Museum at the Plains Museum, Tinwald, as a special interest attraction.

They each put in to buy the appliance and for its upkeep.

The Mid Canterbury Vintage Machinery Club, which also has a new base at the Ashburton Showgrounds, has provided a temporary home.

Spokesman Peter McQuarters said Ashburton had lost so much built heritage, but was rich in other heritage, such as the appliances held by the fire museum, the Ashburton Aviation Museum, the Plains Railway and Historical Museum, and now this.

The Ashburton Fire Museum is dedicated to appliances that served Ashburton, which this unit had not, but it would be used on open days to support the museum.

It is fully functioning, and was at the museum yesterday to get a polish.

The appliance has a straight-eight Rolls Royce engine and will be on display at the fire museum at The Plains for its first open day of the season on Sunday.