Dennis Magirus Turntable Ladder Fire Engine

Up till WWII John Morris & Son imported the 100’ all-steel Magirus ladders for this 1937 fire engine from Germany which they then mounted onto a Dennis low-loader turntable ladder (TL) chassis.

These later appliances were also fitted with an 850 gallon per minute pump unit fitted under the front seats (PTO from gearbox).

My late father served on this type of appliance for over 30 years, including during the Blitz of London. After the war a Morris Magirus TL was based at New Cross Fire Station where my father served. I saw the TL a number of times as a young boy on visits to the station and each year it was in action at Lambeth Embankment Headquarters on display (the good old days!) My model is dedicated to my late father.

Dennis Magirus Turntable Ladder Fire Engine
Dennis Magirus Turntable Ladder Fire Engine

The model chassis is 26½” long. A 6–12V motor drives through a two-speed gearbox to a two-piece prop shaft into a level drive differential. A transmission brake is fitted on the rear of the gearbox and a PTO drive from the box is used to power the turntable for transversing the ladders. Leaf springs (curved strips) support the front and rear axles, and four screw-down type pull-out stabilisers support the raised ladders. The three-piece extending ladder unit is constructed using 24½” and 12½” strips butted together with 3” fishplates then brazed with narrow strips to a further run of 12½” narrow strips. Each ladder is approximately 3’ 1” long and the width varies from 3½” to 1½”. The total height of the ladders are 7’ 6”. A PDU motor raises the ladders by winching in two nylon straps connected to the rear ladder structure. A second PDU motor powers a winding drum to pull in the cable for extending the second and third ladders.

It was always my plan to make the ladders as light as possible but still be strong enough, which I have managed to achieve. After a year of constructing the TL I am pleased with the results.


Excellent model with an interesting history.

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