This is one of two of fire extinguishers used at Rothschild house that we care for in our collection. The Harden “Star” Hand Grenade is a glass globe filled with a chemical fluid, and when broken over or into the flame extinguishes the fire instantly. These fire extinguishers were hung up in the room, so that they are instantly accessible.
We have worked in partnership with Tring Natural History Museum to have the object cleaned and conserved, and it we are pleased to announce it will now be on display (until the end of 2016) in the recently refurbished Rothschild Room at the Museum.
This type of fire-fighting equipment was very popular in homes and workplaces during the 19th Century and later, as the following examples of testimonials from the above advertisement prove:
“35, High-street, Maidenhead March 2, 1885, – Dear Sir, – Some methylated spirit took fire in our work-room and rapidly ignited the floor-boards. It was of the utmost importance that the fire should be instantly extinguished, and this, we are happy to say, was most successfully accomplished by the use of two Harden ‘Star’ Hand Grenades. Their use was most satisfactory. Their portability allowed their immediate application at a point to which water could only have been carried with difficulty, and their instantaneous action left nothing to be desired. – Yours, and C. J. W. Walker and Sons.“
“White Lion Inn, High Wycombe, June 8, 1885, – Gentlemen, – In putting out the alarming fire in my back premises, on Saturday last, the effect of the two Harden ‘Star’ Hand Grenades which were broken on the flames was simply wonderful. In two minutes or so the whole fire was out, and the total destruction of the whole premises prevented. – Yours truly, W. A. Weaver.”