The now derelict London Road Fire Station will be familiar to most Mancunians, greeting anybody leaving Piccadilly Station via the Fairfield Street exit. The station was opened in 1906, and its ornate exterior is beautiful, but for many the building has been almost forgotten, left empty by its owners since it closed in 1986. Now, the Friends of London Road Fire Station, a group formed in March this year by campaigner Adam Prince are hoping to influence its fate, and to make sure that the building described as the finest fire station in the world, is not left to ruin.
Over this weekend (23rd, 24th and 25th August) the group are holding an exhibition at Unit 4A Piccadilly Place that includes information about the station, a mixture of paintings, drawing and prints inspired by the building, along with fascinating historical information compiled by ex-fireman Bob Bonner, who served at the London Road Fire Station, and is now voluntary curator of the Manchester Fire Service Museum in Rochdale.
Adam, who has lived near the station since 1997, explained how there are currently around 30 members of the Friends of London road fire Station, and that this weekend of art and information-sharing is the biggest event yet, after a fundraiser at Soup Kitchen in July. He is incredibly passionate about the future of the station, and how it could be used for the public good – with the exhibition featuring a children’s competition of ideas on how the station could be renovated.
London Road Fire Station is currently Grade II listed, and is on English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ register. Ideally this iconic building should be something for Mancunians to feel proud of, instead of confronting visitors to the City with boarded up windows. Adam is hoping to develop a competition for professional architects to submit plans for the building, and we love his idea of turning it into a community and cultural space, although the building is big enough to house lots of different things, just as it did when it was still in use.
Written by Lauren Velvick / Photos by Elle Brotherhood