Former Huntingdon firefiighter who said he had “the best job in the world”, has died

Tony Bowers in the watch room at the old Huntingdon Fire Station

Tony Bowers in the watch room at the old Huntingdon Fire Station - Credit: Archant

Tony Bowers, served in the former combined Huntingdonshire Fire and Ambulance Service, from 1950 until 1973, and after retiring with ill health, went on to become a social worker and served as the head of the Buttsgrove Children’s Home.

Tony Bowers was presented with a long-servic medal

Tony Bowers was presented with a long-servic medal - Credit: Archant

Mr Bowers, who died on January 20, aged 90, had six children and was a granddad and great-grandad.

His son, Jonathan, said: “He loved his garden. He loved nature and walking. He spent many happy hours at Portholme, and spoke of it often - a love which has been passed on to his children and grandchildren. The church played a huge part in his life. He was an active member of the Huntingdon Methodist Church.”

In February, 2008, Mr Bowers spoke to the Cambridgeshire Community Archives Network about his life in the service and his words have been preserved in an audio file. The piece, which features Mr Bowers relaying a first-person account of his early career, provides a fascinating snapshot of life in the service in the fifties and sixties.

Mr Bowers joined the service in December, 1950, and completed his 10-week training in Leicester. One of his first big fires was at the Huntingdon cinema and he remembers that the water had to be pumped from Portholme Meadow.

The fire station was based in Prince’s Street, and Mr Bowers described conditions as “very cramped” and remembers that it was heated by a coke boiler.

The station in Huntingdon was the main control centre and acted as the hub for part-time stations at Yaxley, St Neots, Ramsey, Kimbolton, St Ives and Sawtry.

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Each local station had an old war-time air raid siren which was used to alert the part-time crews.

During the early part of his career, Mr Bowers was regularly called out to chimney fires and his dual role meant he dealt with maternity cases and transporting patients to hospital.

Mr Bowers ended his archive piece by saying: “I served for 23 years in total, and I considered then, and do now, it was the best job in the world.”

Mr Bowers leaves a wife of 51 years, Shirley. There will be a private committal on Thursday (January 31) and a service of thanks-giving will be held at Huntingdon Methodist Church at 7pm. All are welcome to the later service.