Campaigners urge Nicola Sturgeon to save Fire Museum

Vanessa Braidwood - great-great-granddaughter of fire brigade pioneer James Braidwood visited the Fire Museum at Lauriston. Picture; Neil Hanna
Vanessa Braidwood - great-great-granddaughter of fire brigade pioneer James Braidwood visited the Fire Museum at Lauriston. Picture; Neil Hanna
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CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Edinburgh’s Museum of Fire are asking Nicola Sturgeon to intervene and halt the sale of the historic fire station where it is based.

A group from the Friends of the Museum handed in a 5000-signature petition at St Andrew’s House, appealing to the First Minister to stop the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) selling off the Lauriston Place building as part of a cost-cutting drive.

It is understood the property – the last surviving example of a Victorian fire station – could now be under offer, with any new owner tipped to try to turn it into flats or a hotel.

The SFRS has said the contents of the museum can be rehoused elsewhere in the city.

But the campaigners say the museum’s extensive collection of historic fire engines and other artefacts is of national importance and want a trust ­established to secure its future in its current home.

The museum celebrates the Capital’s unique place in the history of firefighting going back to James Braidwood, who founded the world’s first municipal fire brigade in Edinburgh in 1824.

Friends of the Museum of Fire held a petition signing in Parliament Square. Picture; Ian Georgeson

Friends of the Museum of Fire held a petition signing in Parliament Square. Picture; Ian Georgeson

The petition was handed over by Iona McMurtrie, granddaughter of Ian McMurtrie, who was instrumental in setting up the Museum of Fire in the 1970s and volunteered at the museum until his death last year.

Susan Grant, who is also a descendant of Mr McMurtrie, said: “The future of Scotland’s heritage is in the hands of the Scottish Government.

“We want to have the opportunity to establish a trust to take over the mandate of running and developing the museum into a viable museum and tourist attraction to enable it to become self-financing.

“The Museum of Fire is a historic landmark which should be preserved to honour the past, present and future fire men and women who serve with pride to protect the people of Edinburgh and Scotland.”

And she appealed directly to the First Minister: “Do not allow the sale of the building by the SFRS to become Edinburgh and Scotland’s newest disgrace.”

Ms Grant said efforts to engage in dialogue with the fire board and government ministers had been ignored and requests by the Friends of the Museum to put forward a case for its retention had been declined.

She said: “The Friends of the Fire Museum are ready to work with the Scottish Government to ensure the museum continues to be part of our heritage and, with the right support and entrepreneurial leadership, a ­viable asset for the nation.

“If the Museum of Fire is not preserved in its current home then the Scottish Government will have stripped Scotland of a major historic asset which it will never regain.”

The campaigners believe one solution would be for the upper floors of the Lauriston Place building to be developed while the museum continued to ­operate in the ground-floor pump room where it is currently located.