Unbeknown to myself, I have walked past this building many times over my years in Manchester without ever realising what the place was.
Over the summer various photos from the inside of the London Road Fire Station had appeared online as the building was finally purchased after many years in limbo by a company who are ready to develop it into high priced accommodation, office space and shops.
Before this happened, I got wind of tours around the building before conversion started, so I decided that for £10, this was an offer I could not refuse, as I had seen some nice features.
Things were looking good initially as it appeared there were minimal people on my particular tour, but soon numbers started to swell and I knew any photo taking opportunities would be hard to come by.
Sadly, the tour did not feature a lot of the places I had seen in the photos posted online and along side people getting into every shot and very limited time in each of the areas I was able to see, I am not too impressed with the images I have taken.
Multiple attempts have been made to try to get a pure ‘photo based’ tour of the building to try to see more of the building with less rushing around, sadly all my contact attempts have fallen on deaf ears and it now looks like renovation is due to start very soon, so this is all I am going to be able to get sadly.
Brief History of the Fire Station
London Road Fire Station, opened in 1906, remains one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings to this day. Described as the “finest in the world” it was conceived by George Parker, who was appointed as the city’s fire chief in 1899 and had a reputation for designing excellent fire stations in other British cities. Built around a large central courtyard, and four storeys high, as well as the brigade headquarters it housed a police station, ambulance station, gas-meter testing station, coroner’s court, a branch bank, houses for the fire chief and his deputy and apartments for 32 firemen’s families.
The fire station is most famous for its unashamed lavishness and extravagant styling. The pseudo-classical design boats an exterior faced with tawny Burmantoft’s terracotta and Accrington brick, generously decorated with classical figures, coats-of-arms and other detail. Four symbolic eagles watch over the city from the top of a 150 ft domed hose tower. Domes, gables, window arches and downspouts are all adorned with splendid sculpture and artwork. The completed project cost £142,000, leading to claims of over-extravagance on the part of the city council.
From 1941 to 1948, the fire station operated as part of the National Fire Service, which met the needs of wartime firefighting. Under the NFS banner, London Road served at various times as Fire Force Headquarters, Divisional Headquarters, Control Room and Officers’ Training School. After 1948, the station once more became the headquarters of the Manchester Fire Brigade and a training school opened there to train recruits from Manchester, the North West, Wales and beyond. It served as the training centre for the Army Fire Service for several years and was famous for coaching officer trainees from Commonwealth countries as well as many Middle Eastern petroleum companies.
After serving Manchester City Council and the National Fire Service for 68 years, ownership of the building passed to the new Greater Manchester Council on local government reorganisation in 1974. From then onwards, the station began a gradual wind-down, with the vehicle workshops, 999 control room, police station and firemen’s flats being vacated in turn. In 1986, London Road fire station answered its last emergency call. It was replaced with a new complex at Thompson Street and the building was sold to a large hotel chain.