The Museum holds a wide and varied collection of items which, together, tell the story of the fire service in this region. These include firefighting equipment of all kinds, uniforms, medals and insignia, models, paintings, signs and miscellaneous objects.
Whilst a few of these items are from further afield, the bulk of the collection is representative of the numerous local fire brigades which made up the Greater Manchester area, particularly the eight County Borough fire authorities which merged in 1974. Local fire engineering companies, such as John Morris & Sons are also well represented through examples of firefighting hardware and other artefacts.
Significant objects include a 19th century button, cut from the fire tunic of Superintendent James Braidwood, Chief of the London Fire Engine Establishment, the undisputed “father of the British fire service,” at the time of his tragic death in 1861. Braidwood’s assistant at the time was Alfred Tozer who, soon afterwards, took charge of Manchester Fire Brigade and, after a long career in the city, left a number of valuable objects and archives which are now in the Museum.
Among the oldest items are the 1807 date stone from Oldham’s first fire station, at Mumps Brook, a section of an 1814 stone water main from central Manchester, and several insurance fire marks or plates.
A number of the more unusual objects come from Manchester’s iconic London Road fire station, opened in 1906, including one of the beautiful, curved sliding-pole doors, a 1913 barograph and a hand-made wooden fire engine toy, given to the very first baby girl to be born at the station. Whilst many exhibits are “static,” some items such as illuminated fire station signs, bells and sirens are in working condition.
Only a few of our wonderful objects are illustrated on these pages, so why not visit and see the whole of the displays at first hand ?