Previous names

  • 1934 - 1938 Bristol Pheonix II
Certificate no 619
Status National Historic Fleet
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Details

Function Service Vessel
Subfunction Fire Float
Location Bristol
Current use Museum based
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No
Web address http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/content/Leisure-Culture/Museums-Galleries/industrial-and-maritime-collections-.en

Construction

Builder Hill, Charles & Sons, Bristol
Built in 1934
Hull material Steel
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None

Dimensions

Breadth: Beam
13.02 feet (3.97 m)
Depth
2.98 feet (0.91 m)
Length: Overall
54.98 feet (16.77 m)
Tonnage: Gross
20.00
Air Draft
To be confirmed

History

PYRONAUT was ordered by Bristol City Council for fire-fighting in City Docks. She was crewed by 3 firemen, including an engineer stationed in the engine-room.

During the first two years of her life, PYRONAUT attended major fires at Robbins’ timber yard, Charles Hill’s shipyard and William Butler’s tar distillery at Crews Hole. She attended many major fires in Bristol during the Second World War. As cargo trade shifted progressively from City Docks to Avonmouth, PYRONAUT would also motor down the Avon to fight fires there too.

Her original Petter Atomic oil engines and Merryweather 3-cylinder reciprocating pumps were replaced by Ruston Hornsby oil engines and Coventry Climax centrifugal pumps during an extensive refit carried out by Charles Hill in 1968-9.

The decline in shipping activity from Bristol to Avonmouth prompted Bristol Fire Service to withdraw PYRONAUT in 1973. Pumps and fire-fighting equipment were removed when the vessel was sold to the Port of Bristol Authority for use at Avonmouth as a diving boat. When this conversion was abandoned, PYRONAUT passed to a private owner who reinstated all the pumps and monitors, intending to use her in Southern Ireland. Shortly before completing the conversion, he sold her in 1989 to Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery. The purchase and subsequent restoration were supported by the Science Museum’s PRISM Fund.

Source; John Robinson, Advisory Committee, March 2009.

Sources

Brouwer, Norman J, International Register of Historic Ships, Anthony Nelson, Edition 2, 1993 
Classic Boat: 1,000 Boat Pageant - Forces vessels and lifeboats, June 2012 
King, A, Technology Sheet 14 Fire Float Pyronaut 1934, City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Key dates

  • 1934

    Built by Charles Hill & Sons Ltd and named BRISTOL PHOENIX II

  • 1934-1938

    Attended major fires around Bristol Harbour

  • 1938

    Renamed PYRONAUT

  • 1939-1945

    Attended many major fires during Second World War in Bristol and Avonmouth

  • 1945

    Returned to peacetime duties

  • 1948

    Extinguished a major fire at the Hippodrome Theatre

  • 1949

    Extinguished a serious fire in wastepaper stacks at St Anne’s Board Mill

  • 1950

    Pumped water from the City Docks to extinguish a serious fire at Rowe Bros lead works warehouse

  • 1951

    Helped to extinguish the most serious peacetime oil fire at Avonmouth Docks, pumping water continually for two days

  • 1952

    Fought a dangerous fire aboard M V STANHEIM  in the City Docks

  • 1968/69

    Her original Petter Atomic oil engines and Merryweather 3-cylinder reciprocating pumps were replaced by Ruston Hornsby oil engines and Coventry Climax centrifugal pumps during an extensive refit carried out by Charles Hill

  • 1973

    The decline in shipping activity from Bristol to Avonmouth prompted Bristol Fire Service to withdraw her from service

  • 1976

    Pumps and fire-fighting equipment were removed when the vessel was sold to the Port of Bristol Authority for use at Avonmouth as a diving boat

  • 1983

    When this conversion was abandoned, she passed to a private owner who reinstated all the pumps and monitors

  • 1989

    Shortly before completing the conversion, he sold her to Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery. The purchase and subsequent restoration were supported by the Science Museum’s PRISM Fund

  • 2011

    Currently exhibited in the inner harbour at Bristol Docks

  • 2012

    Vessel selected for  Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk