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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?
Planning permission has been agreed for the Museum to be relocated within the former LFB Headquarters at 8 Albert Embankment, London SE1.
It is estimated, that the new Museum is likely to be completed by 2022.
Next steps – 2020 and beyondWe wait with baited breath for the construction to start, perhaps in late 2020, and for the Brigade to clarify the managerial and financial arrangements. The Friends of the London Fire Brigade Museum stand ready to take a constructive and active part in making the new Museum an even bigger success in future. We remain hopeful that we can play a positive role in the new venture getting the collection out of storage and playing its part in London’s cultural landscape.
Planning permissions granted for new Museum
In December 2019 Lambeth Council gave planning consent to the redevelopment of Lambeth Fire Station which includes the relocation of the Museum.
This was the signal for the revitalisation of the Friends group to become part of the future of the Museum.
Lambeth Fire Station earmarked for Museum home
In March 2014 the Committee were given a recap on the progress and the old HQ 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.
Strategy Committee agrees to keep the Museum open
In September 2012 the Strategy Committee agreed to keep the 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 therefore 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.
Expanded Blue Light Services museum announced
The then London Mayor, Boris Johnson, visited the Museum and clearly saw the positive aspects of it. On 23 December the South London Press reported that rather than closure, he proposed an expanded Blue Light Museum recognising all the city’s emergency services.
London Fire Brigade Museum earmarked for closure
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 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, 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 birth of the Friends
The Friends of the London Fire Brigade Museum have moved from a group which was formed to help the Museum by preventing its closure to one that, hopefully, will help build its future and thought it would be helpful to recap the history of the events thus far.
Formation of the Friends
The volunteers formed the Friends group and the membership started to grow. The embryonic membership held a series of meetings to define the strategy, create the organisation with a formal constitution and to elect its officers.
The South London Press reported the proposed closure 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 Committee dressed in “Save the Fire Brigade Museum” T-shirts sat silently in the Public Gallery. The reaction from the floor was disproportionate.