This film is part of Free

Auxiliary Fire Service in Walton on Thames

Woking's AFS demonstrates its fire-fighting skills in a colourful competition held in 1940 followed by slumbering firemen leaping into action when duty calls.

Amateur film 1940 6 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


This amazing colour film from 1940 shows Woking's Auxillary Fire Service compete with other teams in an annual competition held in Walton-on-Thames. Combining dexterity with teamwork they race to set up their hose first. Then we go to Horsell near Woking, where sleepy firemen are roused to action when the tocsin sounds. After drawing water from the nearby Basingstoke Canal, the AFS men pose beside the filmmaker's Bugatti – now modified for use as a fire engine.

Eric Giles belonged to a family that owned a coach building business in Walton-on-Thames. A longtime member, and later president, of the Bugatti Owners Club, he owned a 1930 Bugatti Type 46, which he adapted into a tow-vehicle for an Auxiliary Fire Service pump during the war. The Bugatti was one of Giles’ contributions to his service with the A.F.S. However, much of the work of the A.F.S. was hampered by the incompatibility of much of its equipment, particularly non-standard hydrant valves, which didn’t match those of other brigades. In August 1941, the A.F.S. was superseded by the National Fire Service and Eric Giles eventually reached the rank of Senior Company Officer.