CHRISTMAS OPEN DAY
Our big Christmas event took place this year on Sunday 2nd December with lots of attractions. Once again we had a funfair, mini fire engine rides around the yard and the famous musical fire engine complete with snow, courtesy of our friends in Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. Santa himself also paid us a visit and spent some time with the younger visitors in his special grotto. A special treat this year was the public debut of our newly-restored 1910 steam fire engine "George V," operating in full steam for the first time since its major refurbishment.
"GEORGE V" COMES HOME
After a year away from the Museum, one of our star exhibits - the 1910 Shand Mason steam fire engine "George V," is now back on display and raring to go. "George" has been undergoing a complete boiler refit, including new water tubes, but is now in full working order several years after its last steaming. The fire engine was originally delivered to the Skelmersdale Fire Brigade in Lancashire and named after the new king. When the fire service was nationalised in 1941, it was still on station, so the bosses at the Manchester headquarters decided it was time to retire "George." The engine was brought to the Regional Training School and never left Manchester. The picture shows "George" undergoing a steam test at the Museum prior to its first public showing at the Christmas Open Day on 2nd December.
SUCCESSFUL LOTTERY AWARD ENDS YEARS OF UNCERTAINTY
Four years after fire crews moved out of Rochdale's Maclure Road fire station, the Museum's wish to take over the building and redevelop it as a wonderful new fire museum for Greater Manchester will now come to fruition.
Thanks to a £1.7m heritage grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund, also the acquisition of the site by Rochdale Council, our plans to restore the wonderful 1933 fire station and instal a brand new fire museum can now go ahead. The Museum has been in the former workshop building at the rear of the same site since 1983 but has outgrown its present home which also lacks proper visitor and otgher facilities. Work should start later this year on the complete refurbishment of the fire station, one of Rochdale's landmark buildings, and within two years we expect to open the museum, education suite, library/archive. cafe and shop. Meanwhile the operation will continue in the existing museum building. A huge thank-you to the Heritage Lottery Fund, lottery players everywhere, Rochdale Borough Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority for making this possible.
Do visit the special section on our website "COMING SOON" (to be commissioned in the next few weeks) which will provide full details, plans, images of the new museum plus lots more.
FULWOOD STEAMER RETURNS TO LANCASHIRE
Nearly a year after arriving at the Museum for a period of loan, the 1898 Shand Mason steam fire engine, formerly of Fulwood UDC Fire Brigade. finally left Rochdale this month.
The steamer, one of the best preserved examples of its kind, had been here to commemorate the White Lund munitions explosion of 1917; the Fulwood and our own "Horrockses" steamer, are now the only two surviving fire engines to have attended the disaster and have been on exhibition together here, the first time they had been side by side in 100 years. Before returning to its normal home at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland, the Fulwood had one more World War One duty to carry out - a special exhibition at Lancaster Castle. GMFS Museum agreed to transport the appliance safely to Lancaster with some great photo opportunities. Thanks to BCVM for this loan, which has been a wonderful addition to our displays these past months.
K 630 JOINS THE FLEET
The latest large vehicle to join the Museum's fleet is a little different from its new stable mates.
K 630 KMB, a Mercedes 1124F was originally built in 1992 with a Locomotors water tender body for the Cheshire Fire Service. After a number of years on the front line, K 630 had its fire engine bodywork removed and was converted to a "beaver tail" low loader vehicle in order to carry the Shand Mason steam fire engine operated by the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Heritage Group and has attended many shows and events over recent years. Having now been acquired by Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum, the appliance will be put to good use here, helping to transport our own fleet of horse-drawn or manual fire engines when required. The vehicle still "looks like a fire engine" though, with the original crew cab, a striking livery and warning devices (strictly for use in the museum only !)
"COMING SOON" IS COMING SOON !
Look out for the special new feature on the website, dedicated to our exciting proposals to relocate and enlarge the Museum. As we complete the development stages of our project to re-house the Museum in the former main fire station building at Maclure Road, we are launching a new sub-section on the site to be called "Coming Soon." This will feature news updates, photos, plans, progress reports and other items related to the project. To keep up to date with progress at Maclure Road, visit www.gmfsmuseum.org.uk/coming-soon
CHECK OUT OUR EXCITING REDEVELOPMENT PLANS
FURTHER TO OUR SUCCESSFUL HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND DEVELOPMENT AWARD IN 2016, THE MUSEUM HAS BEEN WORKING WITH A TEAM OF SPECIALIST CONSULTANTS, ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS AND CAN NOW GO PUBLIC WITH OUR PLANS FOR AN EXCITING NEW FIRE MUSEUM.
Although our exisitng building - the former Rochdale Fire Brigade workshops - has served us well for over 30 years, we have long-since outgrown it. The collection, and our many visitors and friends, deserve something better. Now, plans are coming together for a brand new museum in the former Rochdale Fire Station next door, which will give us a four-fold increase in display space, a dedicated education area, cafe, shop, library, archive and research room and an all-important street frontage directly opposite the Metrolink stop. Our popular Manchester Blitz and Victorian Street tableaux will be re-created in the new museum and original features of the fire station, such as the hose tower and pole drop will become important displays in their own right. The project will depend on further funding coming through by Summer 2018 and, if successful, the new Museum could be ready as soon as the end of 2019. Do have a look at the plans and artist's impressions here and please feel free to send your comments on the proposals to us here at the Museum. We look forward to seeing you in our new home before long.