Museum has expansion hopes

THE Fire and Police Museum in West Bar is opening six days a week for the first time in its 28-year history – and trustees hope it will be the trigger for expansion plans.

So far it has only opened on Sundays and until six months ago had faced falling visitor numbers. Then an advertising campaign pushed up the figures.

Among visitors were representatives of the Heritage Lottery Fund, who have given encouragement to the idea of expanding the centre over five years into a National Emergency Services Museum, the first of its kind in the UK.

“It’s a listed building being used sympathetically so we thought they might be interested in what we’re doing,” said Matthew, a 21-year-old former fire cadet who had volunteered at the centre for eight years before being appointed director.

“They estimate it would cost £13.5m to renovate and they say in theory, if we can meet certain criteria, they would look to provide significant funding. Firstly, though, we have to prove the place will work as a six-day operation. It’s early days but if we can do that, then I’m sure we’ll make quick progress.”

The existing museum contains exhibits such as fire engines, ambulances, police vehicles and badges, uniforms worn by New York City firefighters on September 11, 2001 and a cell crammed with Charlie Peace memorabilia.

It is open Monday to Friday 10am-2pm and Sundays 11am-5pm until December 2.