EDINBURGH’S historic Museum of Fire at Lauriston Place will shut its doors for the last time today, despite a sustained campaign to save it.
The museum – which celebrates the story of James Braidwood, who founded the world’s first municipal fire brigade in Edinburgh in 1824 – has been based at the former Central Fire Station since 1988.
But the building – the last remaining example of a Victorian fire station in the UK – has been sold to Edinburgh University in a cost-cutting drive and is due to become part of the College of Art.
Campaigners lobbied ministers and collected 5000 names on a petition in a bid to keep the museum at Lauriston Place. They appealed to Nicola Sturgeon to intervene and stop the sale. And Lothian Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst won cross-party support for a motion in parliament.
But this week the volunteers who run the museum were told it would close today, with the exhibits to be packed up by the end of November and the property handed over to the university on December 16.
It is understood the fire engines and artefacts will be stored at the former Central region fire headquarters at Maddison, near Falkirk.
Susan Grant, from the Friends of the Museum, said: “We were shocked to learn the museum would be closing today.
“It’s the end of an era – not only for the Museum of Fire in Lauriston, but also the whole history of the building as a fire station. It’s a very sad day.”
The campaigners had asked for time to set up a trust to run the museum and even after the sale was announced they hoped they might persuade university bosses to let the museum carry on in the ground-floor pump house of the old fire station.
Ms Grant said the Friends were still keen to keep channels open with the university and the fire service about the museum exhibits.
“We would like to hope that when the university is planning for the future of their new cultural and art hub they might see whether there is still space for some of the collection in the pump house.
“And we hope the fire service would be open to meet the university and the Friends of the Museum to see if we could still have some presence in this iconic building and retain the memories of the thousands of firefighters who have trod the corridors of the fire station since 1900.”