London Fire Brigade Museum Poised To Close

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 74 months ago
London Fire Brigade Museum Poised To Close

Tomorrow's meeting of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority is likely to sign off on the closure of the London Fire Brigade Museum, a casualty of increasing privatisation in the service.

Visitor numbers to the museum have increased from 3,300 in 2005/2006 to 9,896 in 2010/2011, but the building it's housed in – Winchester House – is part of the Southwark training site and due to be sold off under plans to privatise training services. Lib Dem Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey has received figures showing it will cost £276,700 to store the collection (PDF, Appendix 9) from 1 April 2012 to 1 October 2013. The museum currently costs a net £81,000 to run annually.

The 25 year PPP contract, worth £18m a year, is to train firefighters when they join the service and provide ongoing training throughout their careers. The Fire Brigades Union believed it could provide training cheaper in house, but say the bids weren't allowed to be compared like for like. Green Assembly Darren Johnson said the in-house bid was never seriously considered by Conservative members on the Authority. LFEPA chair, Brian Coleman, is certainly a champion of privatisation, telling Tuffrey he believes there are no functions of LFEPA he thought were inappropriate for private takeover "in the right circumstances".

For a service that has to find savings of £65m over the next two years, not giving due attention to a potentially cheaper provider and incurring costs in closing the Museum seems crackers. But the plans are expected to be rushed through before the election and the Museum will close on 1 April, its collection waiting for funds for a hypothetical Blue Light Museum.

If you want to visit the Museum you need to book an appointment and will be given a guided tour. Tickets cost £5 adults / £3 children, concessions and groups, £30 per school group and £50 for a storytelling session. The Museum is open Monday to Friday with tours at 10.30am or 2pm. Find it at Winchester House, 94a Southwark Bridge Road, SE1 0EG. Visit the website for more information.

Photo by thegirlrg from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Last Updated 13 March 2012


Sadly I'm not surprised  at this news. i suspect that a lot of smaller museums will have to get together in the future to remain cost effective.

i hope the so called Blue Light Museum does get off the ground, It would be a terrible shame not to have a museum to commemorate and celebrate London's great public emergency services.


It seems very rare that we get the benefit of a proper bidding process in privatisation. Certainly, like-for-like seems to be completely taboo.

And then over £100,000 wasted on storage when display would be cheaper? It is staggering how wasteful efficiency becomes when the conservatives (and New Labour for that matter) are involved.


Ah, PPP.  Worked so well with the Underground maintenance contracts didn't it?  I thought the current government were reviewing these with a view of getting rid of them or drastically revising the terms?


Very sad. The history of London Fire Brigade is a History of the Fire Service. It is a fantastic tour, with some great items and very knowledgable guides.  Outsource training, for goodness sake you don't own your fire engines, is there nothing people won't fritter away for a quick buck here and there.


The closure of this museum is a disgrace. All this fire service  history in one place will be lost, presumable scattered far and wide to anyone that has the money to buy exhibits. It beggers believe that the County of Hertfordshire can afford to run a museum in a purpose building at the new Watford Fire Station building, but the GLA  can't; this is  absolute rubbish. the fact is some arrogant   pig headed Councillor, who  has no respect for the Fire & Rescue service, or its history has the power  to close the Southwark museum, so that what he will do. The GLA  can easily afford to fund the running the running costs andif it cannot,perhaps the body which funds all the running costs of the too numerous South Kensington museums can spare some cash!