RECENTLY we’ve been delving into the meaning of “Aclet”, which was the ancient name for Bishop Auckland.

Several people have reminded us that Aclet was also the name of the town’s first motorised fire engine.

Amazingly it wasn’t until 1941 that Bishop Auckland got a motorised fire engine. Before that, it had to make do with a horsedrawn steam pump dating from 1890.

When there was an emergency, the horses, which usually pulled the Co-op delivery cart, had to be rounded up and tethered to the pump, which had to be lit.

If the horses weren’t too tired from their exertions with the Co-op, they raced off to the fire while the pump built up a head of steam ready to throw water onto the flames.

It was such a long, drawn out process – the wise horses would see the firemen coming and run off to the far side of the field – that by the time the engine arrived at the blaze, it had either burned itself out or it had been put out by a neighbouring force, like the Crook Mines Rescue Brigade, which already had a motorised vehicle.

In 1941, Bishop’s horsedrawn engine, named Nelson, was pensioned off and The Aclet arrived.

It was a Dennis Light Four New World Pump, which had the registration EUP 313.

The Aclet served the town until the 1960s, and in 1972 both engines were passed to the new Beamish Museum.

Today, the horsedrawn Nelson still clip-clops around the museum’s cobbled streets, but The Aclet is in the hands of a private collector in the region.