Jenny, a member of our congregation, recently took possession of an old ecclesial almanac which contains hundreds of cuttings from British magazines and newspapers at the dawn of the 20th Century. And there, nestled within this mighty tome, was news from Pembury circa 1902! It concerns the then Anglican vicar of the village, one Revd. H Sinclair Brooke, pictured in the cutting as seen above. Here is what the accompanying text says..
A REVEREND FIREMAN A Vicar who Captains a Fire Brigade.
Versatile clergymen have filled all sorts of offices in the pressure of circumstances, but the Rev. H Sinclair Brooke, Vicar of Pembury, holds an absolutely unique position as captain of the local fire-brigade, a post which was offered to him by the parish council.
Of course, the brigade at Pembury, which is a small town in Kent, is composed of volunteer firemen. In great centres of population a large, permanent always-ready brigade is needed, and is provided by the municipal authorities at considerable expenditure.
A few volunteer fire-brigades have clergymen amongst their members, but only one brigade – namely that of Pembury- has a minister for its captain. Our photograph shows Mr. Brooke in his official uniform – the “Vestments” he wears at fires and drill practice. Mr. Brooke’s ten firemen are a smart body of fellows, who are on the best of terms with their captain, and possess the full confidence of the inhabitants of Pembury.
It is in many ways quite appropriate that a gentlemen who has the care of the souls of the parish should also be at the head of a body of men whose business is to save the lives and property of the inhabitants in case of fire.
We are not casting the least aspersion on Mr. Brooke’s brigade when we express the hope that fires will be few and far between in Pembury.
What a lovely item from the annals of history. Hurrah for Revd. Brooke!