Odds and quads - 5 September 2013

The Royal College of Science was one of three institutions that merged in 1907 to form Imperial College London. In 1955, it set up its own Motor Club to maintain a fire engine known as Jezebel as a mascot for students

September 5, 2013

Built for the London Fire Brigade in 1916, she was initially posted to Vauxhall when the fire station was under the threat of Zeppelin raids. She was still there two years later when a fire broke out and had another lucky escape in 1919 after colliding with a carrier’s van. She was later sold to a Warrington-based soap manufacturer.

In the 1950s, however, students of the Royal College of Science were looking for a suitable vehicle for transporting their president. Although they offered £50 for the fire engine, they were given Jezebel free of charge for her “educational value”. She was briefly stolen by another students’ union as part of a tradition of “kidnapping” rivals’ mascots.

Still lovingly tended by Imperial students who ensure that her 55 sq ft of brasswork are kept highly polished, Jezebel is often taken out to rallies, pub crawls and charity events.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

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