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Background Info

The Museum of Fire is located at 76-78 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh in the previous headquarters of Lothian & Borders Fire and Rescue before its amalgamation in 2013 into the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). The Museum, which opened in 1988 and has been open to the public, Monday – Friday, has since 2013 had over 12,000 visitors. A visit was once part of the school curriculum but stopped when education funding was cut, however we still have facilities for pupils to visit and learn.

The building was erected in 1900 and was a purpose built fire station housing both fire appliances, horses, workshops and accommodation for the firemen. It is now the last surviving example of a Victorian Fire station in the UK and has been given a Grade A listing for its architecture and historical importance. It is this aspect that the building contributes to the historical aspect of the fire collection and forms such an important part of visitors comments when visiting the museum.

We would contest that the fire collection must be kept in this location and stop the disposal of this building to alternative developers. Edinburgh holds a proud position within the British Fire Service history being the first Municipal Fire Brigade in the UK being formed here in the city in 1824. The Firemaster, James Braidwood was accredited with developing the principles of fire appliances and fire fighting tactics which would be copied throughout the UK. He then left and went down to London to set up their Fire Brigade. Sadly he was killed at a massive blaze in Tooley Street on 22nd June 1861.

Current Situation

SFRS maintain they will keep the Museum Collection but will move it to a more prominent location in Edinburgh. Their proposals to date are to move it into smaller premises located at McDonald Road Fire Station, which is further away from the current site, which is both central and enjoys daily exposure to passing tourist buses and is located within Edinburgh’s World Heritage site - is this their idea of a better proposal to protect and develop the Museums collection as stated in the SFRS heritage strategy? Their alternative site would have issues with regards to health and safety and access for disabled visitors that would have to be addressed and would be a further cost implication for the SFRS.

We would argue that moving the collection will devalue and restrict the museum from fulfilling the aims of the National Strategy for Scotland’s Museums and Galleries. The Scottish Government lays much emphasis on protecting and assisting Scotland’s many museums to protect their historical contributions for future generations and to the important aspect of tourism within Scotland by the many visitors to our city. As the National Strategy states “They are part of what defines the culture and profile of a place, attracts visitors and stimulates local regeneration. Scotland’s museums and galleries enhance appeal for both domestic and international visitors.” “Heritage is recognised as a key component in making Scotland a competitive destination in the global marketplace and as a driver for tourism.”

With these key aims that form part of a National Strategy, we would counter the claim of the SFRS that the Museum is moved to another location that will be both prominent, better access and able to be developed for the future. The current location has both the historical and architecture qualities that forms such an important asset for the museum collection and should be developed into a true Museum of Fire that will allow visitors from across the world see what an important contribution Edinburgh Fire Brigade has made to the history of firefighting within the the UK and the world.

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