A SHINY new red engine rolled into Southampton 60 years ago this month - bringing state-of-the-art firefighting equipment to town.

As firefighters looked out of their brand new appliance windows on September 27, 1958, noses of the curious and intrigued pressed firmly against the glass.

Youngsters, particularly small boys, took an immediate interest in the new £10,000 turntable-ladder, which gave the local brigade the most-up-to-date fleet in the country.

It was an all-steel German Metz ladder mounted on a Dennis chassis, powered by a Rolls Royce straight 8 engine developing 150 brake horsepower.

It had a built-in pump of 600 gallons per minute capacity at 100lbs per square inch

The 10-ton machine, which had enclosed accommodation for the crew, could be used as a rescue ladder, a water tower, or as a crane to release people trapped under vehicles.

As a crane, with steel legs fixed to the ladder head, it could lift two tons.

It was designed for faster-than-ever rescue work. One turn of a handle completed seven operations - locked the axle, released four stability jacks, released the ladder mechanism and unlocked the throttle to enable ladder operations to be carried out.

The new engine was the talk of the town that day.