Fred Penny, Founder of the HCVCA
The man who is credited with founding the club. As a small boy in the 1930's in the U.K, I was often chastised for running off at the sound of a Fire Engine bell. Those vehicles I idolised are now preserved and often shown at Rallies today. Needless to say many are of DENNIS Bros. manufacture.
I lived at home through the early WW2 years when the sounding of the air raid siren brought forth an array of vehicles to gladden the heart. By Christmas 1943 I decided I was old enough to join the Merchant Navy, otherwise the war would be over without me. By June 1944, after giving Army personnel much training in unloading tanks, trucks and men at night we joined the thousands of ships heading for La Belle France. On the sixth visit to Normandy our cargo consisted of dozens of QL Bedford’s and their DENNIS trailer pumps of the Army Fire Service.
After WW2 my own sons were taken to every Fire Brigade demonstration and review we could manage. We had various Fire Brigade and Police radio frequencies available on our domestic radio set from Radio Rentals.
In 1958 we were off to the "Colonies" in the footsteps of various great aunts and uncles. We were to find the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade (M.F.B) still using Brass Helmets, English chassised hose carriages, street fire alarms etc.
1966 was a very good year as it offered an advertisement of an ancient fire engine for sale. After 8 months of increasing my bid for it, the 1923 Berwick Buick was finally purchased. The Buick arrived home in the back of Johnny Dawson's furniture van which just happened to be passing through Warragul at the time.
My next big purchase was the ex M.F.B. 1954 petrol Albion with a 1907 wooden Magirus ladder of 6 tons. (Originally horse drawn and operated by a gas cylinder) Both vehicles attended the Melbourne Steam Traction Engine Club (M.S.T.E.C) rallies at Wantirna in the '70s.
Amongst my many correspondents at this time was an ex New Zealand fireman who was employed as a fire fighter at a copper mine in Papua New Guinea. He had seen sets of colour slides of fire fighting activities for sale in Montrose Victoria, and asked me to investigate. This led me to Jack Kerrohan, who had a bookshop in his backyard. I purchased several books and on hearing I had two old fire engines under preservation, Jack invited me to join their "Enthusiasts Association."
About this time I had written to Supt. W. Beare of N.S.W Fire Brigade about the non arrival of their quarterly magazine, only to be told that they had no one to edit it and were considering an offer by a civilian to do the job. As we appeared to have much in common, he included the address of the "famous" Brian Blunt. We quickly discovered the advantage of having a man on the spot and shared our historical findings of various Fire Brigades Australia wide. Brian at that time (1970) was employed by a large petrol company and often travelled around the capital cities on their business. When in Melbourne we gave him a home and much to read!
Brian had a few friends with several old commercial vehicles on a country property under the banner of "Historic Commercial Vehicle Association" and was considering a Historic Fire Engine Association (H.F.E.A.) as the N.S.W.F.B was selling many complete DENNIS fire appliances. I offered to represent them in Victoria and eventually suggested to the Enthusiasts Association that we could operate a Victorian Branch of the H.F.E.A. of Australia.