HERITAGE OPEN DAYS 2019
Visitors to the Museum and former fire station site for this year's national Heritage Open Days event were able to view the latest plans and visuals of the new museum scheme at a special exhibition staged inside the former appliance room. Various objects from our collection, connected with the building, were displayed including fire helmets, communications devices and items recovered from the building. Our exhibition designers, Creative Core, met with a large number of interested people and there was considerable interest in the project throughout both days. Guided tours of the empty building were also on offer with around 200 people taking this opportunity to see previously restricted areas prior to the redevelopment commencing in the near future. The latest plans and artist impressions will be uploaded to this site very soon.
MORE SECRETS REVEALED
This interesting sign, from door manufacturers Laidlaw and Thomson, was uncovered when recent exploratory work was carried out by the volunteers inside a storeroom which had once formed part of the main engine house (or appliance room). The company was a famous Manchester supplier of ironmongery and other building fittings and enjoyed considerable success in the 1930s supplying fire station doors of the "rapid opening" type, including those at Maclure Road. Interestingly, the ex-Southport Fire Station doors which will soon be fitted in the fire station as part of its restoration, are of the same make.
MUSEUM DESIGN TEAM APPOINTED
We are delighted to announce that THE CREATIVE CORE of Huddersfield has been appointed as main exhibition designers for the new Museum. The team have already commenced work on what will be a stunning, up-to-the-minute museum within Rochdale's iconic 1933 fire station building. Creative Core are having to work closely with our architectural design team, OMI Architects of Salford and, together, are creating the most exciting museum of its kind. We hope to publish details of the exhibition plans as soon as they are ready.
BALLROOM'S HIDDEN TREASURES
The once-famous ballroom above the Maclure Road fire station disappeared around fifty years ago when the space was reconfigured as office accommodation for the Rochdale Fire Brigade. Now, exploratory work in connection with the restoration of this area has begun to reveal some of the room's hidden art deco features, unseen for decades. Although the first floor is not part of the new Museum project, it will be fully restored as part of the greater scheme and converted to high-class, open plan office space with the original scale and decorative features that existed when it was a ballroom. This way the new owners, Rochdale Borough Council, will be able to provide a revenue-earning return for their financial outlay whilst still respecting the room's original function. Now, with a portion of the 1960's fire brigade office construction being removed, the original vaulted ceiling and 1930s decor is slowly being revealed. The "minstrel gallery" balcony, hidden behind false ceilings and walls for so long is now visible again, with its original speckled paint finish on show, whilst the blue and yellow colouring of the beautiful curved ceiling is seeing daylight again. We even discovered a 1933 pendant light fitting - complete with its bulb - still in place ! Of course, underneath all the carpets, underlay and other materials lies the original sprung dance floor which so many older Rochdalians recall fondly. This beautiful building is slowly coming back to life and showing its beautiful architecture.