Access Statement for Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum
This access statement does not contain personal opinions as to our suitability for those with access needs, but aims to accurately describe the facilities and services that we offer all our guests/visitors.
The Museum opened in 1983 in a former workshop building at the rear of the town’s fire station, a short distance from Rochdale town centre. The operational fire service has since been relocated, leaving the Museum in its same building on the site. Redevelopment of the main fire station building is currently awaited.
The Museum building faces on to an open yard with entrances from both Maclure Road (pedestrians only) and Richard Street (vehicles and pedestrians). Postcodes are OL11 1DN (for Maclure Road entrance) and OL11 1DU (for Richard Street entrance).
The Museum is a proud member of the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme (VAQAS).
At this time, the Museum does not offer hearing loop or Braille assistance, though our friendly, versatile and experienced guides are available at all times. Personal tours are offered, except when the Museum is very busy (eg special event days).
We look forward to welcoming you. If you have any queries or require any assistance please phone 01706 341219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Museum is situated across the street from Rochdale main line railway station, and directly opposite the “Rochdale Railway Station” Metrolink tram stop. Frequent buses from Oldham, Bury and Manchester also pass close by. Surrounding streets are level, but the route from the town centre is up a steep hill (Drake Street). Please follow the one-way road system in the streets around the Museum and beware of trams.
Car Parking and Arrival
The Museum shares its site with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, which also uses some parts of the site not available to Museum visitors: please observe all signs with regard to Museum access or prohibited areas.
Visitors arriving on foot may use either the Maclure Road or Richard Street gates. The Maclure Road gate is the closest to trains, trams and buses. Please note that, if accessing via the Maclure Road gate, entry involves passing through a further narrow (32ins/810mm) opening leading into the yard after passing through the gate.
Visitors arriving by car or taxi should use the Richard Street gate which gives direct access to the yard. Please be aware of other vehicles entering, leaving or manoeuvring on the yard.
Free visitor parking for all is usually available in the yard, with space for around 20 cars including two nominated Blue Badge parking spaces immediately outside the entrance to the Museum building.
However, on certain special event days Blue Badge parking only is permitted; other visitors can make use of the local (free) on-street parking or a nearby free car park on Hare Street (150m). The yard is concrete/asphalt and level. External lighting is provided but the Museum closes at 4pm.
The entrance to the Museum building from the yard consists of a single-width, hinged door (30ins/760mm), which is clearly signposted and unlocked during opening hours. There is a single, very shallow step at the entrance. The large folding vehicle-access gates to the Museum building (immediately alongside) are also frequently open during opening hours (except in cold weather) and provide an alternative route for wheelchair users, with no step. The Museum is “open plan” and there are no further internal doors or steps to negotiate.
The Museum display is all at ground-floor level, There is generally good access around the building for users of varying mobility, including wheelchairs and baby buggies etc., though certain parts can be a little restricted due to the closeness of the objects. For this reason we discourage visitors from bringing large prams or buggies inside if at all avoidable.
Main Entrance, Reception and Ticketing Area
Entry is free so there are no ticketing procedures. On entering through the front door, the visitor is already inside the main display area.
Displays and exhibits
The Museum comprises of several interconnected rooms which visitors are able to explore as they please (unless part of an optional guided tour). Natural lighting is good, with glass roof panels; artificial lighting comprises mainly of fluorescent tubes with some spotlights.
The floor is part concrete, part timber boards and part carpet tiles with no tripping hazards. However the “Victorian Street” section does include a small length of pavement, complete with cast iron edgings, a small area of cobblestones and items of street furniture, such as fire hydrants in their natural setting.
The displays include large and small vehicles, and items of firefighting equipment, at various locations, together with smaller items in display cases or on display stands.
Interpretation panels, comprising of clear text and images, are provided around the Museum, where possible at consistent height. At this time there are no Braille translations or audio guides.
Sound effects such as a Blitz soundtrack, bells and sirens are sometimes used.
Male, female and accessible toilets are provided in the main fire station building, approximately 100m across the yard from the Museum building. These are always available and unlocked during opening hours.
Access to the toilet area is up one 6in/150mm step, through a double outward-opening door with a wheelchair ramp available. The female and accessible toilets are at ground floor level, the male is on the first floor above. All toilets are fitted with appropriate non-slip surfaces and overhead fluorescent lighting. The accessible toilet also includes a baby-change facility.
Full accessible toilet provision is provided, including low-level facilties, grab rails and a pull-cord alarm.
A small, self-service catering facility is situated within the main Museum display space. This comprises of a coffee/tea machine and simple refreshments such as chocolate bars and crisps, with “honesty box” payment.
Assistance is available if required, though on larger, special-event days this area is fully staffed with an improved offer (eg home-made cakes) available. The Museum does not provide sandwiches, fresh food or hot meals. Drinks are supplies in regular paper cups with an alternative (eg crockery cups) possible if specially requested.
Loose tables and chairs for around twelve patrons are provided, Visitors are also welcome to consume their refreshments in the garden area immediately outside the Museum, but eating and drinking inside the display rooms is discouraged.
A small shop area is situated within one of the main display rooms, selling books, models, toys and other relevant souvenirs. This is compact but the counter is approachable by wheelchairs etc. Staff are always on hand to assist customers.
Grounds and Gardens
A small garden/external seating area is provided close to the entrance to the Museum building. This is accessible up a slight ramp (width 48ins/1200mm), with overhanging roof eaves to be aware of. Fixed wooden benches are provided on two sides. The ground surface is riven stone flags.
The Museum is small, friendly and staffed by experienced guides, mostly former firefighters who are able to explain all the displays and exhibits, as well as deal with any situation or problem the visitor may encounter. Trained first-aiders are available and all staff will personally ensure the safety of visitors in case of emergency.
Please be aware that the Museum currently shares its site with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, in a heritage building which was not designed as a visitor attraction. Access, parking and toilets are therefore shared facilities, with some aspects not under our control.
Nevertheless we believe that any minor shortcomings in visitor provision are more than compensated for by our friendly and helpful volunteer staff. However, should any aspect of our service fall short of expectations, particularly for visitors with greater accessibility requirements, we will be pleased to hear of this at the time, with a view to providing a satisfactory resolution.
The Museum is currently planning a major expansion and improvement to its collections, displays and facilities, subject to satisfactory funding. Plans include the provision of the very latest visitor services, full accessibility, new technology and up-to-date interpretation following full consultation.
In the meantime, we strive to make continual improvements to the existing offer for the benefit of all our visitors, especially those with additional needs.
Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum Maclure Road Rochdale OL11 1DN (NB use postcode OL11 1DU to locate vehicle entrance, Richard Street)
Hours Of Operation:
Fridays (except Bank Holidays) (10am-4pm) and first Sunday of the month (except January) (10am-4pm)