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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 March, 2005, 10:17 GMT
Worshipping the elderly Goddess
By Greig Watson
BBC News, Nottingham

Green Goddesses lined up in the yard

Ever wanted to own a national institution? Something redolent of times gone by? A rare but familiar object that will impress your friends?

It appears lots of people do.

The government's decision to sell off its stock of Green Goddess fire engines has brought a stampede of interest.

For the price of second-hand family car, you can have a reminder of how we have faced national emergencies since 1955.

The low-tech tenders are attracting the attention of enthusiasts from as far away as Australia.

Father and son Nigel and Adam Young run a garage in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and paid just over 5,000 for their example of this piece of engineering and social history.

Nigel (left) and Adam Young
A friend has come up with Auxiliary Fire Service uniforms, but we won't be getting dressed up - that's a step too far
Nigel Young, Goddess owner

Adam said: "They are instantly recognisable, they are part of the Cold War and many times since.

"From a collector's point of view, one of the best things about them is they are in such good condition, they have been kept inside, serviced regularly and hardly ever taken out.

"The mechanics are like new, the bodywork is good and even the compartments in the side have all their original hoses, tools and even chimney sweep rods for chimney fires.

"We have also found a sealed envelope in the cabin which has 'Open in Case of Accident' written on it.

"We wondered if inside it said 'Run!'."

Local shows

Nigel said: "A friend has come up with Auxiliary Fire Service uniforms but we won't be getting dressed up - that's a step too far."

Nigel and Adam say the Green Goddess will only take a couple of weekends to restore to its 1950s' condition, then it will be ready for local shows.

A (deactivated) 155mm howitzer
We sell to all sorts of people - private individuals, companies, aid agencies and even other governments
Paul Southerington, Witham Specialist Vehicles

Paul Southerington is managing director of Witham Specialist Vehicles, which sold on the Green Goddess.

The firm is based on an old airfield in Lincolnshire.

"If someone talks about a Bedford RLHZ self-propelled pump, not many people will know what they mean.

"But you mention a Green Goddess and everyone knows that. Since they came out when there was a strike or emergency, people remember them," said Mr Southerington.

His company takes surplus vehicles from the UK government, mainly the Ministry of Defence, and sells them on.

"We have between 1,500 and 2,000 items in stock at any one time, ranging from Quad bikes to a 170,000 Aquatrack.

"We sell to all sorts of people - private individuals, companies, aid agencies and even other governments."

The firm got the contract to sell off the first two batches of 40 of the 900 or so Green Goddesses still owned by the MoD, with prices ranging from 3,500 to 6,000.

Forest fires

Mr Sotherington said: "We get a lot of interest in some of the military stuff we sell, but with the Green Goddess the phone has not stopped ringing.

"We have had inquiries from across the world, from Europe to Australia, from single collectors to big organisations.

"We have sold two to a Ferrari dealership which wants to put them outside the showroom.

"One man in America said he wanted all 40 to fight forest fires.

"They are something from another era, mechanically simple but very well made.

"If you kept it topped up with petrol, these vehicles would pump water for years on end with no trouble."

Green Goddess fleet is snapped up
21 Feb 05 |  Lincolnshire
Green Goddesses reach end of road
15 Feb 05 |  Lincolnshire
Is the Green Goddess up to it?
22 Oct 02 |  UK News

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