'London Fire Engines', c 1825.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This coloured aquatint after the original painted by James Pollard (1797-1867) shows engines of the County, Westminster and Phoenix companies racing to a fire. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, firefighting in London was largely carried out by the insurance companies. The insurance brigades mainly fought fires threatening the premises of their own policy holders, which were identified by fire marks on the buildings. The brigades did however often help each other and ultimately combined into a single force in 1832.