London Fire Brigade

Soho Fire Station kicks off 150th anniversary open day celebrations

05 April 2016

Soho Fire Station will be the first of our stations to host a Playmobil open day to mark our 150th anniversary.

The event on Sunday, 10 April runs from 11am to 4pm and will be an opportunity for the community to celebrate our special year and learn life saving fire safety lessons. Fire engines old and new will be on show, firefighters will be taking part in drills to show off our skills and much, much more.


Playmobil are helping us organise 65 special open days across London to celebrate the Brigade’s 150th anniversary. The anniversary open days will be a perfect day out for anyone who’s ever fancied playing firefighter for a day, taking place across London from April through to December. Children big and small can meet real firefighters and life-sized Playmobil ones, plus enjoy toys and activities galore.

Limited-edition London Fire Brigade versions of popular Playmobil Fire Brigade sets have also been created for little ones to learn through play at home. Ten per cent of proceeds will be donated to the Brigade’s charities of choice, with toys available from April to purchase at the open days and from Playmobil customer services.

Soho station’s history

The earliest record of a “Fire Brigade” in Soho was one funded by an insurance company at Tom’s Coffee House in St Martin’s Lane in 1699.

In 1833, 10 independent fire insurance companies united to form the London Fire Engine Establishment (LFEE) to provide the public with a more resourceful and effective fire service. Three of the 13 stations were on Soho’s ground; Befordbury, Wells Street and King Street.

Round of applause

In 1921 stations at Great Scotland Yard and Great Marlborough Street joined together to form Soho Fire Station at the old London Salvage Corps building on Shaftesbury Avenue.

The station is opposite the Palace Theatre and at the time it was claimed that an eminent stars would stop his show when the bells sounded address the audience with “Ladies and Gentlemen, can we please have a round of applause for the brave men of the London Fire Brigade.”


At 7.45pm on 7 October 1940 a high explosive bomb hit the doorway of the fire station. It suffered severe damage and was virtually demolished. Two passers-by sheltering in the doorway were killed and several firefighters also lost their lives. A temporary station was set up on the same site and remained until the station was rebuilt in 1982.

The Honours and Awards board at Soho features such war time heroes as Harry Edrington, Colin Townsley who lost his life at Kings Cross and Soho’s Blue Watch who attended the 7/7 bombings.

Today Soho is London’s busiest station covering famous theatres, hotels and London landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Horse Guards Parade. So make a date to visit our first open day at Soho Fire Station, 126 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 5ET.