What happened to the original Fire Brigade Museum?
The original Museum was located in Winchester House, adjacent to the Southwark Training Centre. The Fire Station closed in January 2014, the Training Centre closed in May 2015 and the Museum closed in September 2015.
Where is the new London Fire Brigade Museum?
The London Fire Brigade are looking to relocate the Museum within the former London Fire Brigade Headquarters at 8 Albert Embankment, Lambeth, London SE1.
The FutureThe Friends are actively raising the profile of the new LFB Museum by attending Fire Station Open Days and meeing members of the public, updating their social media feeds and generating interest in the Museum as a whole.
In January 2022, the hard work and efforts of the Friends was rewarded when they entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the LFB Museum and were officially recognised as the Museum’s Friends Group by The Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Andy Roe.
The newly revitalised Friends of the London Fire Brigade Museum worked hard throughout 2020 and 2021 to raise public awareness of the plans for the new Museum, through social media, attending open days and by reinstating relationships with their historic supporters/membership.
In December 2019, Lambeth Council gives planning consent to the redevelopment of Lambeth Fire Station, which will include the relocation of the Museum.
This was a signal for the revitalisation of the Friends group to become part of the future of the Museum.
New Museum Location
In March 2014, the Friends were given a recap on progress, and the old LFB headquarters at Lambeth Fire Station was seen as the best option for the new Museum.
The site at Southwark was marketed for redevelopment from that date and consultants were appointed to process the idea.
In September 2012, the Strategy Committee agreed to keep the London Fire Brigade Museum open until a permanent home could be found.
However, as the Southwark site, which included the Museum in Winchester House was to be sold, the Museum also had to close and all the items in the collection were placed into storage, where they have remained.
A small pop-up display was set up in the Rear Block of Lambeth, formerly the Brigade Workshops, comprising two appliances and poster displays which attracted a large number of visitors until it too later closed.
The Brigade established an internal working group to explore funding, property and governance. Officers were tasked with working on the feasibility of transferring the Museum to a charitable status. This report does not seem to have been made public.
Blue Light Museum
The then London Mayor, Boris Johnson, visited the London Fire Brigade Museum and clearly saw the positive aspects of it. On 23 December 2008, the South London press reported that, rather than closure, Boris Johnson proposed an expanded Blue Light Museum, which would recognise all of capital’s emergency services.
In October 2008, the London Fire Brigade Budget Options Report earmarked the Museum at Winchester House, Southwark for closure.
It was the start of the period of public sector austerity. The savings were minuscule and no cost benefit analysis was given. The value of the Museum as a major cultural asset, that records the role the fire service played in the development of London, is ignored and it was clear something needed to be done.
The Volunteers who worked at the Museum started a campaign involving a petition, contact with the local press and letter writing to members of the Authority. The letters emphasised the positive aspects of the Museum, such as giving the Brigade access to 6,000 visitors annually, at very little cost.
The opportunities this presented to give its message on fire awareness, using items which caused fires, often in the home, is priceless, making many aspects a vivid reality. The limitation of available space restricted the number of visits to guided tours even though demand was high.
The Friends of the London Fire Brigade Museum moved from being a group which was formed to help the Museum, by preventing its closure, to one that, it hoped, would help build its future.
The Volunteers working at the Museum along with a small group of concerned individuals form the Friends of the London Fire Brigade Museum and its membership started to grow. The embryonic membership hold a series of meetings to define the strategy, create the organisation with a formal constitution and elect its officers.
The South London Press report the proposed closure of the Museum on 7 October 2008.
The local online media feed SE1 also reported the situation and started to work in support of the Friends.
At a subsequent Authority meeting, members of the Friends, dressed in “Save the Fire Brigade Museum” t-shirts, sat silently in the Public Gallery.
The reaction from the floor was disproportionate.