Metropolitan Fire Brigade practise by the Thames, London 1868.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News'. The introduction of the pump and hose in the late 17th century had represented a significant advance in firefighting, but the drawback was that the pump had to be worked by a team of men. This was solved in the 1860s by the introduction of the steam pump: the boiler of one of these is being stoked by the man towards the centre of the picture. In addition, steam replaced horses as the means of drawing the engines. A double ladder system, mounted on wheels, is also being tried out in front of the curious onlookers.