Last surviving fire engine from Sheffield Blitz and a lifeboat lifted in by crane on display at Emergency Services Museum

A lifeboat is just one fascinating exhibit on display at the National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield

By The Star Newsroom
Friday, 22 March, 2019, 12:35
A road traffic incident, one of the displays upstairs, in the museum. Picture: Marie Caley

The huge 47-feet craft was brought up from Poole, Dorset, and lifted into the museum’s West Bar yard by crane.

But, like most of the exhibits on offer, it is the boat’s history and backstory, which provides the true fascination.

The former police firefighters house. Picture: Marie Caley

The boat was named the City of Sheffield after people in the city paid for it.

Matt Wakefield, chief executive of the museum, said: “The boat was made of steel which fits quite nice with it being funded by the people of Sheffield.

“It came to the end of its life and we had just started working with the RNLI and we asked what the chances were of getting the name plates and they said: ‘Do you want the boat that comes with it?’”

Women in Police Exhibition at the National Emergency Services Museum. Picture: Marie Caley

The boat and its history is just one example of Sheffield’s links with the emergency services and of the fascinating array of vehicles and exhibits at the museum.

A museum has existed on the West Bar site since 1931 and the building actually housed a combined fire, police and ambulance station, which dates back to 1900.

The area which houses the fire engines was originally used as a fire station and stables for the horses.

Fire engines on display at the museum. Picture: Marie Caley

Among the collection is the last surviving fire engine from the Sheffield Blitz, which was actually based in Barnsley but sent to the Steel City during the bombings.

And the space which is home to several police cars from various decades once housed six stables of police horses as well.

A cottage out in the yard was once used to house police firefighters and their families.

Also in the yard is a miners’ rescue vehicle and a fire service catering unit, which was used to feed and water firefighters during the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005 and its last job was supporting emergency services at the Manchester Arena bombings in May 2017.

Mick and Geoff, pictured, working on the new education rooms. Picture: Marie Caley

As Matt leads us on a tour of the site, he explains that the museum owns around 150 vehicles of its own, with 50 on display at one time, but it has access to around 200, including those of other organisations it works with.

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The museum gained its ‘national’ status in 2014 and become the National Emergency Services Museum.

Today, its team of six staff and 21 volunteers welcome around 30,000 visitors every year.

Matt said the museum was ‘always’ on the lookout for more volunteers to help look after the exhibits and ensure visitors were looked after.

He said: “We are not wanting to be a museum that just has glass cabinets – what better way for people to learn about the emergency services than by actually having hands-on experiences?

“It would be ideal for us to move to a big warehouse because we could display stuff far easier but we don’t want to because of the history of the building.”

Paul Watson, learning and discovery co-ordinator, pictured in the Fireman's bedroom. Picture: Marie Caley

The museum will mark World Autism Day on April 2 by opening its doors for its first sensory-friendly session.

The sessions will see the museum switch off sounds, smells and flashing lights and there will be ‘chill out zones’ on each floor to provide a quiet space for visitors.

Doors to the museum will be open from 10am until 12.30pm on the first Tuesday of every month.

For more information visit www.emergencymuseum.org.uk

A Newsham and Ragg fire engine Picture: Marie Caley
Women in Police Exhibition at the National Emergency Services Museum. Picture: Marie Caley
Museum chief executive Matthew Wakefield, pictured in front of a feifighters' catering unit. Picture: Marie Caley
National Emergency Services Museum chief executive Matthew Wakefield, pictured by a 47ft RNLI Lifeboat. Picture: Marie Caley
A Morris Minor Police Car. Picture: Marie Caley