Handtub Junction, USA

Handtub of the Month

February 1999

Falcon - Southborough, Massachusetts

fal16.jpg (39545 bytes)

The "Falcon "was built by the William Hunneman Co. of Boston, Ma. in 1868.  It was the 700th of 717 hand fire engine manufactured by the company.  The engine has 4" cylinders and has competed in both Class B and Class C hand engine muster competition.  While not fairing well in the Class B division because of it's size,  the "Falcon" has quite an impressive record in Class C competition.  On July 28, 1868 the engine was delivered to the Town of Franklin, Massachusetts and was named "Franklin #1". Not much is known about it's life in Franklin, so it's first 28 years are rather vague.  We do know that it attended it's first muster while in Franklin in 1879.

On the evening of March 4, 1896 a large part of the Fayville section of Southborough was consumed in a tremendous fire.  Many buildings were destroyed including a four story former shoe factory that had been converted into tenements.  Dozens of people were left homeless by this blaze, most being immigrant laborers living in the remodeled shop. Southborough bad no fire department and with nothing more than a few buckets, help was summoned from surrounding towns with the " Torrent #1 " from nearby Marlborough was the only one to respond.   Twelve days later another fire in the same area destroyed 2 more buildings. The Town needed to do something!

As a result of these 2 fires Southborough acted quickly.  On April 6, 1896 a special Town Meeting appropriated the sum of $1800 for the purchase of fire equipment.  One of the items purchased with these funds ($150) was the "Falcon". The engine was delivered on or about June 25, 1896 and was the first piece of apparatus the Town ever received.

The "Falcon" spent all of it's firefighting life stationed in Fayville, within feet of the spot where the great   Fayville Fire of  '96 started.  The engine not only protected Fayville but was also was ready when called to assist the fire companies in Southborough's other 3 villages.  One such occasion was on July 13, 1914 when the Bowman Plaster Factory in the Southville section of town caught fire.  Newspaper accounts of the fire tell us "... the first to arrive was Chemical No. 1 of Southborough and soon after came the Fayville hand tub. Both these companies did good work, especially the hand tub company, who played a stream on the fire..."

The beginning of the end for the "Falcon "came on May 12, 1915 when fire again swept through Fayville.  The Baptist Church and several other buildings were destroyed and the "Falcon" was virtually helpless against the windswept flames and aid was sought from surrounding towns.  Within 5 years Southborough would reorganize it's fire companies into one department and in 1921 with the addition of motorized equipment the "Falcon" was retired from the fire service.

The engine was then purchased by Southborough Selectman Francis Dexter Newton.  Upon Selectman Newton's death in 1927 the "Falcon" was donated back to the Town.  From 1927 till the late 1940's the Town's first piece of fire equipment sat idle in it's former station in the rear of the Fayville Village Hall.  In the early 1950's efforts were made within the fire department to refurbish the "Falcon" and maybe entering it in muster competition.  This effort failed but later in the decade the Francis Dexter Newton Veteran Fireman's Association was formed and the engine was entered into competition.  It was originally entered in the Class B division but because of it's cylinder size of 4" it could not compete with the larger 6"+ machines.

fal80.jpg (52114 bytes)

In the early 1960's a Class C division was attempted with 3 contests being held with the "Falcon" winning all 3. However due to a lack of participants the Class C division faded away.   In 1983 the Class C division was revived and the "Falcon" joined in.   Since that time Class C contests have been held in several different states throughout the Northeast and the "Falcon" has attended them all compiling a pretty impressive record along the way.  It has won the North American  Class C Hand Engine Championship 8 times and of the 34 Class C musters the "Falcon" has attended it has won 26 of them,  including a string of 15 wins in a row from May 1986 to July of 1992.  Two of these wins came in the same day on July 28, 1990 at the 100th Anniversary Muster of the New England States Veteran Fireman's League held in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  It competed 3 time that day. Once in the Class B division where it managed only a tie for 10th place.  It also competed in the Class C Championship muster held that day on another part of the field in which it won with a record stream of 164 feet. The third contest that day was the first Transcontinental Playoff ever held.  The "Falcon" competed against a Class C engine from California and won the contest by almost 20 feet.

The engine has also been featured on national television while attending a muster in Hudson, N.Y. in 1989. The "Falcon" today is maintained by the F.D. Newton Veteran Fireman's Association of Southborough and is poised and ready to try and continue it's winning tradition wherever and whenever a Class C contest is held.

fal96.jpg (179551 bytes)

If anyone as anything that they would like to add or has any photo's of the Hancock #1 they would like to see on here, please email me or mail it to:

Handtub Junction, USA,  PO Box 359,  Southborough, MA 01772

Return to Handtub of the Month Page

Copyright 1999 Handtub Junction, USA.  All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.