Handtub Junction, USA

Handtub of the Month

July 1999

Union No.1  -   Southborough, MA
Union.jpg (45873 bytes)


The Union No. 1 was built by the Wm. Hunneman Co. of Boston in 1867 and was the 695th hand engine built by the Hunneman company. In late September of that year it was delivered to the Braintree - Weymouth Massachusetts Fire District. At that time the Union was a 5 1/2" Squirrel tail machine The Union provided fire protection for the district till 1889 and on September 30. 1870 it attended it's first muster in Haverhill, Ma finishing 16th of 20 with a stream of 182' 6" this would begin a muster career that would see some tremendous highs and several low spots. The Union has won over $19,000 in muster competition and it's longest stream is 227' 11" shot in 1902.

In 1899 the engine was remodeled to 6" cylinders and it's brakes and super structure altered to a effect a greater leverage so it was believed. The work was carried out by Mr. Thomas South who for many years operated a blacksmith shop in East Braintree, Ma.

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On September 5th, 1910 the Union #1 it was report that the  Union No. 1 was was badly damaged enroute to a muster in North Adams, Massachusetts. Not much is known about the accident but it was repaired in a months time and competed at the Brockton Fair muster on October 7th of that same year.

On August 20, 1914 came the Union No.1's finest hour. At the N.E.S.V.F.L. Tournament held in Nantasket Beach, MA. the Union won the League title beating many of the top engines of the day. An article from the Braintree Observer at the time:
"When William F. Mayberry superintendent and president of the State Veterans Firemen's Association took his position on the tub, few familiar faces lined the handles. A delay of several minutes were required before enough volunteers were secured so the tub could compete and in the group were members of the town government, police and fire departments and some who had never before gripped the bars.
Captain Mayberry ordered three streams and his second shot up the paper and outdistanced the distance mark for the event. A loud cheer went up from the hundreds on the side lines as the Union not only won the first prize in a muster but also the title.......Supt. Mayberry was given great credit for the victory, which was a big surprise to the men on the handles, as to the towns people who learned the news by telegraph a few minutes after the mark was made..... He is the most popular man in the association and was earnestly congratulated on being the captain of the tub that humbled the Hancock of Brockton and others."
This was a tremendous fete in it's day.v The Union was the first Hunneman engine to win the League title and only one of two to do so until the classes were separated in 1946. This upset was equal the modern day upset of the New York Jets beating the Baltimore Colt in the 1969 Super Bowl.  The Union would continue to be a regular participant on the hand engine muster circuit for the next 10 years or so.In 1925 the Union stopped mustering and began to slowly deteriorate.

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In 1959 the Union #1 was purchased by the F. D. Newton Veteran Fireman's Association of Southborough, Massachusetts. Over the course of the next year the Union was completely restored, many of it's major parts had disappeared while the tub sat idle outside a Braintree fire station and had to be made from scratch. The efforts of the Southborough firemen paid off. At it's second muster from it's new home the Union No.1 managed to nail down 1st place. Later that year the Union out distanced 8 other competitors at a muster in E. Greenwich RI and won the 1960 N.E.S.V.F.L. Championship for class B engines. This would give the Union the distinction of being the only hand engine ever to win the league's Class A (1914) and also the league's Class B title. The Union has been a regular contestant on the New England muster circuit since it came to Southborough and won it's last muster in 1996.

If anyone as anything that they would like to add or has any photo's of the Union No.1 they would like to see on here, please email me or mail it to:

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

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