Rare fireman’s helmet bought at auction by Midlands museum

A 11in (28cm) high Marsh & Baxter fireman's helmet. The brass helmet, with Marsh & Baxter Brierley Hill face plate, has a Merryweather & Son's maker's plate to the underside.

The Black Country Living Museum has bought a rare piece of local history – a fireman’s helmet from a fire service run by the local butcher.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Laura Chesters

A 11in (28cm) high Marsh & Baxter fireman’s helmet. The brass helmet, with Marsh & Baxter Brierley Hill face plate, has a Merryweather & Son’s maker’s plate to the underside.

It paid a hammer price of £460 via a commission bid at Fellows Auctioneers in Birmingham for the helmet that was marked for the butcher Marsh & Baxter.

Marsh & Baxter, founded in 1871, was popular in the Black Country area for more than 100 years. It had more than 50 outlets at its peak in the 1950s and ran a meat factory in Brierley Hill.

The firm had its own fire service, and this rare brass helmet is an example of what would have been worn. The existence of the butcher’s fire service was previously unknown to the curators at the local museum.

A photo of Marsh & Baxter butchers in Brierley Hill.

Helen Taylor, collections manager at the Black Country Living Museum, said: “We’re delighted to have put in a successful bid for this wonderful helmet thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of the Museum.

“We ask that if any member of the public knows anything about how this private fire service operated to please get in touch with the museum as we’d love to find out more information.”

Kevin Jackson, auctioneer at Fellows, said: “Marsh & Baxter butchers were an integral part of the Brierley Hill high street throughout the 20th century and it was no surprise to see the helmet sell for a good price.”

The Marsh & Baxter factory closed in 1978. The helmet will be included in the museum’s permanent collection.