Old Fire Station
The Braintree & Witham Times reported on 27th June 2002 “PART of Witham's civic history is up for sale. The old fire station in Guithavon Street, behind The Crown pub, is disused and in poor repair and owner Braintree Council plan to sell it to the highest bidder. The site could be used as business premises or could be demolished and redeveloped, subject to planning consent, as the dilapidated building is not listed. Witham historian Janet Gyford said she thought the fire station was the second in Witham and was built sometime after 1842, when Guithavon Street was constructed. Its predecessor was at the junction of Avenue Road and Newland Street. Both early fire stations would have been manned by horse-drawn fire engines. Guithavon Street station was eventually superseded as 20th century motorised fire engines outgrew the premises. The station was still in use at the start of the last war when volunteer fireman manned it round the clock’. Mrs Gyford said: 'At the start of the war the firemen had to go and live in it for a couple of weeks. They had to sleep on the fire engine and popped into The Crown for essential supplies! 'It's a building of local interest and it would be a shame if it was demolished, but unfortunately the listing system is based on national architectural importance rather than local importance. Mrs Gyford added that during the war a new full-time fire station was opened behind The Swan pub in Newland Street. In the post war years Witham's retained fire crews moved to their current home, the modem fire station in Hatfieid Road”.
A planning application was submitted to Braintree District Council to demolish the building and build flats on the site in 2005. However, the plans proved controversial and on 11th January 2006 the Braintree & Witham Times reported “plans to build flats on the site of an historic fire station have been refused. Braintree Council's Witham area committee has gone against their planning officers' advice to approve the redevelopment of the 19th century building in Mill Lane, Witham. They refused it on the grounds of lack of amenity space, but also raised concerns about the location of the two one-bedroom flats, close to the main road, and the lack of parking”.
The building has now been fully restored and is currently occupied by an estate agent, Heminstone Estates, and bears an Ordnance Survey Benchmark. A Victorian Wall box, 1881-1904, is fitted into the wall on the left.
Sources: Braintree & Witham Times (Janet Gyford); Braintree District Council; Witham & Countryside Society