Skip to main content

1917 Leyland DEU4 Fire Engine Registration no. LH 8816 Chassis no. 3482 Engine no. 5972/54

Sold for £5,750 inc. premium
Lot 1208
1917 Leyland DEU4 Fire Engine
Registration no. LH 8816 Chassis no. 3482 Engine no. 5972/54

1917 Leyland DEU4 Fire Engine
Registration no. LH 8816
Chassis no. 3482
Engine no. 5972/54


Leyland's introduction to the fire engine market was quite unexpected. Established as steam engineers, the company had gained fame with fearsome steam-powered lawn mowers, the first of which was supplied to Rugby School in 1895. In 1896 came the first of many steam wagons, then in 1904 Leyland built an experimental petrol truck nicknamed "The Pig". Its shortcomings were speedily rectified and a reliable petrol-engined truck was developed (though the 1907 output of 36 steamers against 17 petrol chassis shows both the size of the commercial vehicle market at that period and the prejudice that still existed against internal combustion).

In 1909 the Chief Fire Officer of Dublin arrived at the Leyland works and told the astounded company that he had decided that they built the finest petrol truck chassis in the country, and that nothing but the best would be good enough for his proposed new fire engine. Though Leyland protested that they knew nothing of fire engine design, the astute fireman had come armed with his own ideal specification and Leyland agreed to build his engine.

It achieved notoriety on test: while the capabilities of its 250 gallons per minute Mather & Platt turbine pump were being tested in the Leyland workshops, workmen began to fall to the floor unconscious. That was how Leyland discovered the noxious effect of exhaust fumes in a confined space!

The engine was delivered to Dublin in 1910: on trial in Phoenix Park, it reached 60 mph, no mean feat on solid rubber tyres. A banquet was held to celebrate its arrival, only to be interrupted by a call to a fire at Kingstown. Driven by Henry Spurrier II, one of the partners in the Leyland company, the machine put up fast time on a slippery road and put the fire out in time for Mr Spurrier to catch his boat back to Liverpool!

Fire engines quickly became an important part of Leyland's production; late in 1910 a special 85 bhp six-cylinder engine intended for fire engine work was added to the range. Before long, all Leyland fire engines were fitted with the four-stage Rees Roturbo turbine pump made in Wolverhampton, in this case an 1880 rpm pump with a rating of 369 ft/head. Their fame was widespread: among the early purchasers of Leyland fire engines were the fire brigades of Shanghai and Hobart, Tasmania.

This restoration project Leyland engine was originally owned by the London Fire Brigade: it was one of three acquired by Michael Banfield in 1965 from scrap dealer D.R. Monger of Dragon Road, Peckham, for £100 each (the other two were sold on). It has an old blue registration document.

Own a similar item?

Submit your item online for a free auction estimate.

How to sell

Looking for a similar item?

Our Collector Cars specialists can help you find a similar item at an auction or via a private sale.

Find your local specialist

Specialist section


  • 12 June 2014, 09:00 - 17:30 BST

Additional information