WHEN Peter Patrick left the fire station in Oxford’s George Street for the last time more than 40 years ago he rescued a hoard of old photos that had been thrown in a skip.

For decades he treasured the images of his fellow firefighters in the hope they could one day form the basis of a history book recalling the brave actions of the brigade.

Mr Patrick never got round to writing the book, but when station manager Chris Wilson had the same idea and appealed in the Oxford Mail last year for memorabilia, Mr Patrick got in touch.

Now the historic images are set to be the focus of a new exhibition – and a new book charting the history of the Oxford brigade.

“It’s an exciting discovery,” said Mr Wilson, who is based at fire headquarters in Kidlington.

Mr Patrick, from Oxford, was a firefighter for 30 years between 1946 and 1976. When the George Street station closed in 1971 he transferred to Rewley Road. During the move, he managed to salvage about 50 pictures of Oxford firefighters, some as large as 2ft square, dating back to 1870.

Mr Patrick, who moved to Gloucester after he retired, died in May.

Father-of-one Mr Wilson is now researching the photos and is hoping to stage an exhibition at the Old Fire Station in George Street, now an arts centre.

Mr Wilson, 48, a firefighter for the past 20 years, added: “As a result of the appeal in the Oxford Mail, I was contacted by Mr Patrick’s daughter Helen, who lives in Gloucester, and she told me about her father’s old photographs.

“He told his daughter that he wanted her to hand over all the material – he has passed the torch on to me.

“I’m now compiling the archive material for former Oxford firefighter John Lowe to write an updated history.

“It is thanks to the appeal in the Oxford Mail that these precious photos have been discovered.”

Mr Wilson said that the first history of Oxford City Fire Brigade was published in 1895 after being written by Thomas Green, who was brigade captain at the time.

He added: “Following an exhibition at the Old Fire Station some time next year, these photos will be archived in the fire service’s museum collection.

“When Peter was a fireman people used to say that ladders were made of wood but the firemen were made of steel.”

Mr Wilson is brigade co-ordinator for the Fire Fighters Charity, which raises funds for injured firefighters and their families. Any profits from the book will go towards the Fire Fighters Charity.