A new history book sheds light on the early years of Eastbourne’s fire service, dating as far back as the early 19th century.

The book, Unsung Heroes, tells the story about the town’s fire service from its start as a church-based voluntary service, with local tradespeople and shopkeepers acting as fire personnel.

Author Stephen Le Vine said: “Today, many people take our emergency fire service for granted.

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“My research shows the history of Eastbourne’s service, how it was formed, and the bravery and sacrifices made to protect local people over many years in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“I hope the book sheds light on a forgotten era of heroism that protected the town through challenging times.”

The book covers the 19th century from 1823 and through the 20th century up to 1974 - when the town’s service was incorporated into one covering all of East Sussex.

As well as documenting the fire service’s role during the two world wars, it also covers notable shipping fires such as the Norweigian oil tanker MT Sitakund.

The vessel caught fire and exploded in the English Channel in 1968, with an attempt to tow the tanker resulting in it running aground near Beachy Head. Three of the ship’s crew died, while the remaining 31 crew suffered burns.

Writing in the book’s foreword, local historian Kevin Gordon said: “The town was and still is proud of its fire service, and the book reveals the human aspects of the service, with regular drills, displays, dinners, dances and prize-giving.”