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Bill Best brings back fire truck from United States

By Poppy Jeffery

Bill Best, whose dad has the same name and owns Bredgar and Wormshill Light Railway, has spent thousands on an American fire truck.

The 40ft beast of a machine, a 1991 Pierce Arrow 105' Aerial, was decommissioned from service in Woodstock, Virginia, in August, to be replaced by a newer model.

Bill Best, firefighter Adam Burner of Woodstock Fire Department in Virginia, and Bill’s son, Richard Best, with the 1991 Pierce Arrow 105’ Aerial fire truck

Bill Best, firefighter Adam Burner of Woodstock Fire Department in Virginia, and Bill’s son, Richard Best, with the fire truck

The 63-year-old fell in love with the 25-tonne monster and its massive ladder and has had it shipped over to the UK.

He said: “The truck was spotted by my wife Christine and I when we were on holiday in the USA.

“We were discussing it with firefighter Adam Burner and he advised that it was being replaced and would likely be scrapped.

“There is nothing wrong with the unit other than age so we successfully purchased it.”

It cost him about £40,000 to buy and ship over here.

"It is now thought to be the only one in the country and can deliver 4,000 litres of water a minute, more than double the capacity of its standard UK counterpart.

The decommissioned Woodstock Fire Department in Virginia was facing being scrapped

The decommissioned Woodstock Fire Department in Virginia was facing being scrapped

The father-of-two said: “We were told it was likely to be scrapped and cut up. That seemed a pity so we decided to see if we could save it.

“This is a little out of character, buying something like this, as I’m more into industrial railway and farm equipment, as well as old cars.”

Its 3,768-mile voyage began on October 4. It travelled from the fire department in Virginia, to Baltimore in Maryland, before being loaded onto a ship and crossing the Atlantic.

The truck, which has a top speed of 50mph, arrived at Southampton and Mr Best will drive it to the railway at Bredgar, where it will take pride of place at the final open day of the year today.

The retired businessman has been trained to operate the truck, along with his son, Richard, and plans to practice before they show it off.

  • The final Bredgar and Wormshill Light Railway open day of the year today runs from 10.30am until 5pm. Tickets are £10 for adults and £4 for children aged three to 15.

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