A 200-YEAR-OLD fire appliance that once battled blazes in Malmesbury is to return to its old home after a £15,000 restoration.

The hand-pulled vehicle, dating from the 18th Century was once one of the main exhibits at the Athelstan Museum.

But it was taken away after the town hall was revamped in 2009 and the collection moved into smaller quarters.

Museum chairman Ernest Buchner told the Standard the return of the appliance became a project after the 2012 annual meeting when the museum was sent a letter asking for it to be brought back.

“We tried to find out what was happening with it. There were rumours that it was going to the Wiltshire Fire Service museum in Devizes.”

But he explained: “The fire service plans for their museum no longer include the appliance so we were able to convince them to keep it at Malmesbury Fire Station until we were able to identify a place for it at the town hall.”

Negotiations with the town council began and earlier this year it was agreed the historic vehicle could be displayed in the window of the tourist information centre.

“The coincidence is that the TIC was at one point the fire hall,” he said.

Although the antique was retired in the mid 19th century, its new display position will be close to where the town’s fire engine was stationed until the new purpose-built fire station was opened in Gloucester Road in 1969.

But this week it was undergoing detailed restoration work by a team of experts from Wiltshire Council’s Conservation and Museums Advisory Service in a hangar at Hullavington Airfield.

Mr Buchner added the work, which he estimated as costing between £10,000 and £15,000, was being provided free by the unitary authority.

“I don’t know of another county in the country that offers that kind of thing to local museums,” he said.

Local interest in the return of the appliance has been high and the museum is hoping that will help when it comes to raising money for the new display stand that will be needed in the New Year.