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James Braidwood

Person  Male  Born 3/9/1800  Died 22/6/1861

Categories: Emergency Services, Tragedy

Countries: Scotland

Firefighter. Born Edinburgh where he formed the world's first municipal fire brigade. In 1832 he became the first Superintendent of the London Fire Engine Establishment, the precursor to the London Fire Brigade. The following year he saved Westminster Hall from destruction in the 1834 fire at the old Palace of Westminster as told at the Dustshovellers Gazette. Killed in the Tooley Street fire.

Our colleague, Andrew Behan, has supplied some more details about this man.

Superintendent James Braidwood was born on 3 September 1800 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the tenth of the eleven children of Francis Braidwood (1752-1828) and Janet Braidwood née Mitchell (b.1758). His father was a cabinet-maker and upholsterer. 

On 2 November 1824 it was reported in the Edinburgh Advertiser that he had been appointed as Superintendent of Fire Engines. He later moved to London and was appointed as Superintendent of the London Fire Engine Establishment.

On 14 November 1838 he married Mary Ann Jane Jackson née Sibery (1801-1871) at St Mary Aldermary, Watling Street, London, EC4, where the marriage register shows him as a Superintendent of Fire Establishment residing at 68 Watling Street and she was recorded as a widow living at 69 Watling Street. His wife had previously married a John Jackson on 21 June 1827 in St George, Hanover Square, and they had five children before her husband died.

James Braidwood and his wife had six children: Helen Braidwood (1839-1918), Fanny Braidwood (b.1840), Janet Braidwood (1842-1899), James Francis Braidwood (1845-1926), Lithgow Braidwood (1847-1884) and Francis Braidwood (b.1850). The 1841 census confirms that he and his wife were residing in Watling Street and in the 1851 census shows him as the Superintendent of the London Fire Establishment still residing at 68 Watling Street with his wife, their six children, four of his step-children: Mary I. Jackson, John P. Jackson, Charles J. Jackson, Eliza Jackson, together with a female general servant and a nurse.

The 1861 census shows him as the Superintendent of London Fire Engine Establishment having 126 Firemen and 18 Divisions, residing at 66-69 Watling Street, Fire Engine Establishment, with his wife, their six children and two female domestic servants.

He died, aged 60 years, on 22 June 1861 in the Tooley Street Fire and was buried in Abney Park Cemetery, 215 Stoke Newington High Street, London, N16 0LH. Probate records show that on 27 July 1861 his will was proved by his widow and a James Shand of 245 Blackfriars Road, Surrey, who were two of his executors. His estate was valued at under £5,000.

He is also commemorated on the Firefighters Memorial, in their Trust's Book of Remembrance and by the erection of statue in Parliament Square, Edinburgh. From 1939 to 1961 one of the London Fire Brigade's Fireboats was named the James Braidwood.

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James Braidwood

Information Commemorated at

Great fire of Tooley Street

2021: This plaque has been replaced with a similar plaque, re-branded to prom...

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James Braidwood

What a great plaque. The inscription is inside a laurel wreath, in front of a...

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