Research - London Road Fire Station

The former Headquarters of the Manchester Fire Brigade on London Road still remains one of the city’s best-known landmarks. Chief Officer George William Parker designed the station. He drew his first sketches in 1899 - on his shirt cuff. He had a reputation for fire station design having previously built new headquarters at both Bootle and Belfast.

Following a design competition, Parker’s rough plans were transformed by a specially-created team of Manchester architects, Messrs Woodhouse, Willoughby and Langham, and such was the scale and quality of the final scheme that, before the first brick was even laid, the building was being described as ‘the finest fire station in this round world’.

The completed station, built of brick, steel and concrete and faced with terracotta in neo-classical style, was opened on 27th September 1906. The main contractor was Gerrard and Sons of Swinton. The station was home to:

  • a seven-bay chief fire station and all facilities
  • a police station
  • an ambulance station
  • a Coroner’s court
  • a gas meter testing department
  • the Chief and Second officers, thirty two married and six single firemen all of whom lived there. (The station was home to the families of the married firemen)
  • eight fire engines
  • thirteen horses.

There was also provision for future motor fire engines and a 200-box street fire alarm system.

The completed scheme cost £142,000, considered by some to be extravagant in 1906.

The accommodation was arranged on four storeys, the top three for firemen’s quarters. Sliding poles connected with the engine house below. A section of one pole is in the Museum’s Victorian fire station. The Museum also has one of the unique curved pole-drop doors from the station, a ‘MFB’ inscribed doormat and a control switch for the Musgrave’s patent fresh air ventilation system. The ventilation system was designed to stop unpleasant smells from the horses reaching the flats above.

GMC Fire Service closed the fire station in 1986. Since then the Grade II listed building has been bought and there have been several plans to redevelop it but as yet none has been put into action.

Click here to view information on London Road Fire Station as a PDF

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