Plans for the new Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum in Rochdale are blazing ahead

Date published: 11 January 2018

Proposals to transform the Greater Manchester Fire Station Museum in Rochdale will be showcased to the public for the first time on Friday (12 January) and Saturday.

Under the plans, the ground floor of the former fire station in Maclure Road will be renovated to create a dedicated exhibition space for the museum’s many exhibits.

The move would more than triple the museum’s current floorspace from 300 to 1,000 square metres and enable its many exhibits, including a fire station dating back to the 1700s, to be showcased.

A new café and education centre would also be added if the bid is successful, and some paid posts would be created to help manage the museum, which is currently staffed entirely by volunteers.

If agreed, the proposals will also enable the museum to open four days a week, rather than one, enabling visitor numbers to triple from just under 5,000 to 15,000.

The museum, which has been open since 1983, hosts 60 school visits year, which youngsters from far and wide coming to see its exhibits.

Bob Bonner, from the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum Trust, who worked in the fire service for many years and has volunteered at the museum since it opened, said: “This is a really exciting time for the museum, with visitor numbers topping 5,000 last year for the first time in our history.

“This museum has been a part of Rochdale’s history for more than 30 years and thousands of school children from across the North West have learned about the fire service and fire safety in this very building. With this lottery bid, we could make it even bigger and better and we would love to share our ideas with Rochdale residents.”

Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “This fantastic museum has been part a part of the cultural life of our borough for more than three decades and this is due in no small part to the incredible work the volunteers do.

"The council is really keen to ensure this asset continues to play a major role in the future and that is why we’re helping the volunteers in every way we can.”

Residents can meet the scheme’s architects, OMI, the designers, Leach Design Studio and representatives from the council, RDA and the museum. 

The consultation events take place Friday 12 January from 9am until 4pm, at the Fire Service Museum and Saturday 13 January,  at the Rochdale Exchange Shopping Centre from 10am until 2pm.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £108,000 for the plans to be developed in more detail.

A decision on the bid is expected in the summer.

The museum opens every Friday and the first Sunday of each month.

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