'A Fireman of the Sun Fire Office', 1805.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Hand coloured aquatint from 'The Costume of Great Britain', a book containing 60 images of people at work and scenes of everyday life. This image shows a London fireman dresed in the uniform of the Sun Fire insurance company. A Newsham fire engine is being operated in the background. At this time, firefighting in London was carried out almost entirely by the fire insurance companies who organised brigades to protect the properties they insured. Each company competed with its rivals to be the first to reach a fire and secure the best supplies of water. William H Pyne (1769-1843), the son of a London weaver who became an artist and writer, was commisioned to write and illustrate the book by the publisher, William Miller of Albermarle Street, London.