Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum, based in Rochdale, will have a brand new identity when it re-opens around Easter after a year-long closure. From that time the museum will be known as “FIREGROUND.”
The museum has operated out of an old workshop building behind Rochdale’s former Maclure Road fire station since 1983 but will soon have a striking new main-street presence. For the past twelve months, the iconic art deco fire station – not used by firefighters for seven years – has been undergoing a complete restoration in readiness for its role as the museum’s new home.
The restoration project has included the retention or replacement of many historical features, such as a brass pole and original 1930s folding wooden doors to the front and rear. The new museum will be four times the size of the current one and include a dedicated education centre, library and archive, cafeteria and family-friendly attractions. Some existing museum features, such as the Victorian fire station and Manchester Blitz tableaux, are being re-installed on the new site, with improvements such as authentic sound effects.
On the first floor, the former ballroom has been restored to its original art deco appearance and will be re-purposed as a high-tech “co-working” space managed by Rochdale Council.
Museum Curator and retired fire officer, Bob Bonner, said: “This project is the culmination of many years of effort and determination by our hard-working volunteer team but is now nearing completion. We think our visitors will be delighted with the new offer.”
The word “Fireground” comes from a fire service term which dates back to the last war and refers to the scene of operations at an emergency incident – similar to a “battleground” in the armed forces.
“It’s where everything happens – all the action and activity;” said Bob. “we hope the name will soon be synonymous with a centre of excellence in fire heritage and fire safety education, as well as being a much snappier name than our previous one “.
There will be several more weeks of “fitting out” in the new location, but the Museum is currently planning on opening around Easter 2021.