Captain J. Robert Ingram of Dublin proposed Mark
Wickham, an inspector on his staff, to head the Cork Fire
Brigade. Inspector Wickham surveyed the situation in Cork and
reported that a Fire Brigade could be set up for a nominal sum.
Wickham's report was adopted by the Corporation on September 28, 1877.
On October 1 the Corporation decided to pay for the Brigade without
going to the insurance companies for funds and the Brigade came into
From the start there was a shift in emphasis on
the side of the firefighting force in Cork. Whereas previously the
primary object of the Insurance Brigades was the saving of property,
Superintendent Wickham indoctrinated his men with the importance of
saving human life and the rendering of humanitarian service to all,
regardless of creed or class.
On Good Friday, March 27, 1891, a great fire occurred
in the Cork Courthouse, Washington Street, while cases arising out of
the political movement of the time were being tried. William
O'Brien, M.P., and John Dillon, M.P., were in court that day to give evidence for five
Tipperary men who were being tried. The fire was first observed
shortly after six o'clock in the evening, when flames were seen
licking around the base of a chimney shaft, but Judge Monrose refused to
adjourn the court until it was noted that the frames of the roof lights
were ablaze and molten lead from the windows began dropping down into
the courtroom. The Fire Brigade arrived as did a large party of
military from Cork Barracks, but the building was beyond saving, along
with the municipal records and most of the County's legal records.
The political trials created quite a bit of feeling in
'Rebel Cork' and the crowd cheered when the Union Jack was enveloped in flame, prompting Rudyard Kipling to pen
"The English Flag".
Superintendent Wickham was already in trouble with the
Corporation (click here to see further details)
and the Courthouse fire sealed his fate. In May,
1891, he was demoted to Brigade Foreman and Alfred Hutson was made
Superintendent. Mark Wickham died six years later.
adapted from the book "Firecall",
compiled by Patrick Poland
here to go to Mark Wickham's family and their contribution to