Enter the ‘Iron Lady’ in powder blue dress and …
Tory leader Mrs Margaret Thatcher popped into Finchley fire station on Friday and caught several of the firemen out, writes Debbie Ambrose.
For minutes before Mrs Thatcher, MP for Finchley and Friern Barnet, arrived, the emergency tender had to go out and deal with a toxic fume leak. The men were back to join Mrs Thatcher for tea, but another call came and one of the other tenders had to rush off to a rubbish fire in Woodhouse Road, North Finchley.
But the special visitor throughly enjoyed the action and left her tea quickly to see the fire engine dash out. She enthused at the speed in which the firemen left the station. “They all just melted and the room was empty,” she said.
The call to the rubbish fire came just as Mrs Thatcher was thanking the firemen after she was shown the two pump escapes and emergency tenders and was introduced to the firemen of the Blue Watch.
She told them: “As a very ordinary member of the public I want to thank you for everything you have done, for the protection you give us and the devotion and expertise with which you carry out your job.”
Her visit to the station was at short notice. The officers were only told of their special guest last Wednesday, and they were clearly pleased at the interest she showed in their work.
After being welcomed by Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Eric Bond, commander of the London Fire Brigade's “J” division, Mrs Thatcher, who wore a powder blue dress, was introduced to the firemen by Station Officer D. Greer.
She asked about the manpower at Finchley, training, the equipment and the fire which burns underground continuously at Coppetts Wood. But what she wanted to know most of all was how the man got down the pole and she asked for a demonstration.
Fireman Keith Wood, who has been at Finchley for two years, obliged and later, when he handed round the tea, Mrs Thatcher remarked: “You're pretty handy aren't you?”
Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Bond presented Mrs Thatcher with the plaque design of the London Fire Brigade and a box containing rank markings within the brigade. But Mrs Thatcher reckoned she would not be allowed to keep the rank markings to herself for long— “My Mark Thatcherson will want that,” she commented. She was also handed some brochures about the fire brigade.