THE campaign to save Edinburgh’s fire museum is gaining support from politicians amid warnings that plans to relocate it to the outskirts of the city would mean a dramatic drop in visitors.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has indicated the museum – which celebrates Edinburgh’s role as home of the first municipal fire brigade – is likely to be moved from its current home at the old Central Fire Station at Lauriston Place to the new East division headquarters due to open at Newbridge.
Our city has a proud history of setting up the world’s first municipal fire service, and we should do our best to showcase this history, not hide it away in the outskirts of Edinburgh.Alison Johnstone
But museum guide George Gray said the Lauriston Place station was also an important part of the Capital’s fire heritage.
He said: “Why would you give up the only surviving Victorian fire station in the UK for a glass and concrete box?”
Members of the Friends of the Museum of Fire staged a demonstration yesterday, including a drive-past at the Scottish Parliament by old fire vehicles.
And a motion tabled at the parliament by Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone calls for the current building to be saved and developed as a world-class museum.
Ms Johnstone condemned the plan to relocate the museum as part of the SFRS’s rationalisation following the merger of the previous brigades to form the single Scotland-wide fire service.
She said: “It’s a crying shame that this iconic Edinburgh institution will be torn apart. Our city has a proud history of setting up the world’s first municipal fire service, and we should do our best to showcase this history, not hide it away in the outskirts of Edinburgh.
“The dedicated volunteers who have fought so hard to keep this museum running need to be heard. We will be doing our city a disservice if we let this important historic landmark be taken away from us.”
East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray is among those from across the political spectrum who have backed Ms Johnstone’s motion.
He said: “The first priority is that the museum’s collection is kept together, but it seems unlikely many people are going to take the trouble to visit it if it goes out to Newbridge.
“I would like to see it kept in Edinburgh where it has always been and where it belongs.”
And Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie said: “This museum is an important part of Edinburgh’s heritage and it would be hugely regrettable if it was to be closed or relocated as proposed. There is far more opportunity for people to visit it if it is in the city and not out at Newbridge.
“It is a valuable educational resource for schools and, if properly funded and expanded, it could be a great tourist attraction.”
The SFRS has said the heritage and history of fire and rescue is “of extreme importance” and it is committed to retaining the assets of the museum at a location within the Capital.