Today, if you were to travel along Port Way in Wantage and pass King Alfred’s Academy you would be forgiven for not paying much attention to a modest old building across the road from the school.
Commonly called the Armoury, once this building played an important role in safeguarding life and property in Wantage. For it was the Fire Engine House and was built around 1878 to house the fire engine.
This is James Henry Frogley, who was a Wine Merchant. He was the Captain of the Wantage Fire Brigade from 1875-1882. According to his obituary in the Berkshire Chronicle, he was chiefly instrumental in the establishment of a volunteer fire brigade for Wantage and he was a natural choice to be its leader.
The fire engine had previously been kept in the Old Town Hall in the centre of the Market Place. The Old Town Hall had been demolished in 1877 to make way for King Alfred’s Statue.
By 1910 The Fire Engine House was no longer suitable for the Fire Brigade and it was put up for auction. It subsequently became the Armoury for Wantage School’s Officer Training Corps. Thereafter the building served as a place for training cadets. Recently, it would appear that the building has stood empty.
Currently there is a planning application for the demolition of the Armoury building. This building is considered to be a non-designated historic asset. Nonetheless, it is a real possibility that this building will be demolished.
If you believe that the Armoury Building should be saved, then please write to your local district Councillor. Letter templates can be found at this web address.