London Fire Brigade Museum Escapes Closure - For Now

By Ed Sexton | 28 November 2008
a photograph of a museum interioir with photographs, artefacts and plaques

© London Fire Brigade Museum

London Fire Brigade Museum has been given a stay of execution following a meeting of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority on November 20, 2008.

The museum came under threat when the authority earmarked it for possible closure as part of a money saving plan.

Charting the history of the London Fire Brigade from the Great Fire of London right up to the present day the museum in South London still faces an uncertain future and staff are fighting to ensure that the museum stays open to visitors.

Volunteer Tony Sweeney explained: “I think it is very positive that the authority chose not to close the museum down – it is very important that we keep our heritage going.

"I used to work for the London Fire Brigade and we would encourage new trainees to go there and see where we came from.

“I also think the museum plays a very important role in promoting the fire prevention message. We teach children how and when to phone 999 and the museum offers another way for the fire brigade to interact with the public.”

Tony added that the majority of visitors are children and their favourite exhibits are the collection of Fire Engines. "We have about 15 on display but we are constantly being offered more from private collections and it would be great to have a bit more space to show them off.”

As well as the Fire Engines, the museum based in Winchester House in Southwark Bridge Road houses a vast collection of artefacts and memorabilia.

Tony said: “The museum will need more funding if it is permanently kept open. I understand that a number of parties are interested in backing the museum but we haven’t heard anything yet.

“The committee has decided not to close it, which is a step forward, but we need to do something for the museum; it’s definitely an interesting time for us.”

As concern grows for its future funding, London Mayor Boris Johnson has thrown his support by the museum.

A spokesman for the Mayor said: “The Mayor’s Office is concerned about the possible closure of the museum, which documents important collections and archives of the London Fire Brigade's contribution to the city. The museum is a valued asset to the community and an educational resource for local people and schools.

“We are keen to see a solution and will arrange a meeting with the museum to discuss their concerns.”

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said: “LFEPA, which runs the London Fire Brigade voted not to pursue the closure of the museum at its meeting on 20 November. A final decision regarding the Brigade’s budget will be made in March 2009.”

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