Today the children, my Dad and I headed north to Rochdale to visit the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum.
It isn’t somewhere I have ever heard of before, but it popped up on a website earlier in the week when I was looking for ideas of places to go with the children over the cooler months. It is only open on Friday’s and the first Sunday of each month so we took the opportunity to head there yesterday.
And what an absolute gem it is. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before!
It is located over the road from a Metrolink stop, as well as being very close to the train station. We parked in the yard and headed into the museum. The picture above is the entrance – very unassuming. When we went inside I quickly saw it was jam packed with all sorts of stuff – so much to see. We were cheerfully greeted by two gentleman who I quickly established were ex Fire service personnel.
We were able to be left on our own to have a look at the items on show, but a lovely man called Les gave us a brilliant, taking the time to explain all sorts of things to us and he was very, very good with Mr D – lifting him up to ring the bell, sitting him on the fire engines and passing down various helmets – he really was excellent and fascinating to talk with and listen to
We had a good look around and learnt a few things too such as how breathing apparatus has changed, the origin of the phrase ‘all hands to the pump’ and just how much we owe to the Victorian era.
We stopped at the little shop area and the children were treated to a small fire engine toy each and then we had a coffee and a small cake bar (they operate an honesty pot – prices are displayed).
What is astonishing is that the museum receives very little funding yet the wealth of information that was shared during out visit today was superb. There was a school group visiting for the day and I just know that it is the sort of place that will really bring history alive for them, in part because just getting to see and touch the fire engines as well as the other things around brings it to life, but talking to men as passionate about things like Les so clearly is gives you another level of insight into things. They charge just £1.50 per pupil for educational visits and it is free for other visitors.
When the children are older and able to understand things a little more we will be heading back for a more in depth look.
I said it before in my post about the model railway show that we went to a few weeks ago, but I love getting the chance to speak to people who are so very clearly passionate about something. I also loved that in the climate of fear and everything else that surrounds contact with children, Les and another colleague didn’t bat an eye lid at lifting Mr D up into the fire engines, didn’t bat an eyelid at taking his hand to lead him onto the next display. Exactly how it should be but sadly we live in a world where people don’t interact in a tactile way with children.
If you live in Greater Manchester it really is worth a trip over to Rochdale for this. On the first Sunday of the month they have some of the trucks out in the yards. We will be heading over for one of those events I am sure.
To read more about this wonderful hidden gem you can visit the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum website here.