London Fire Brigade

Last chance to visit the museum before big move

14 September 2015

Our world famous museum is offering visitors one last chance to view its historic collection of artefacts, vehicles and memorabilia when it takes part in Open House London on Saturday (19 September).

Explore hidden tourist gem

After that, the current building, regularly described as one of the capital’s ‘hidden tourist gems’ will be closing its doors for the final time at its current location. The collection will then be audited and painstakingly packed away into storage in preparation for the museum’s move to a brand new dedicated space.

Visitors will get an opportunity to look around rarely seen areas of the building on Southwark Bridge Road,  known as Winchester House, and which was home to London’s first Chief Officer, Captain Eyre Massey Shaw, in the 19th century.

The open day will celebrate the rich history of the site, from its use as pleasure gardens known as 'Finch's Grotto' in the 1770s, to its time as a workhouse, a hat factory and finally from 1878 the official residence of the chief officers of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. The museum's exhibits include:

There will be free guided tours of the site at 11am and 2pm. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Open House London is the capital's largest annual festival of architecture and design and takes place on the weekend of 19 and 20 September. Our museum will be opening its doors on Saturday only, entry will be free and no booking is required.

Exciting future beckons for new museum

In July members of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority agreed to make the provision of a new museum, as well as a fire station, a condition of the sale and redevelopment of the Brigade's old headquarters on Albert Embankment in Lambeth .

A new modern  location will allow more people to visit the Arts Council accredited museum which last year saw over 2,000 school, pupils reluctantly turned away because of the current site’s limited capacity.

Commissioner Ron Dobson says

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "We are extremely  proud of our rich history and while the move from Winchester House marks the end of an era, it is also the beginning of  an exciting new chapter for the Brigade  which will see our  rich heritage secured for generations to come.

"Open House London will  be the final chance  for people to visit our  museum at its current location before we begin preparations to move to a new, dedicated, venue proposed for Lambeth. As well as giving more people the opportunity to view our collection, the move close to an operational fire station will help maintain the link between the Brigade’s past and today's modern fire service."

Keep up to date with museum plans

It is estimated it could take between three and five years until a new museum opens but in the meantime there will still be opportunities for the public to view the historic collection. These include temporary exhibitions across London, outreach visits and educational talks and lectures and events to commemorate next year's 150th  anniversary celebrations.

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The museum has been at its present location since 1966 but the current site is now set to be sold as part of the redevelopment of the Brigade's former Southwark Training Centre.