Seven days to go and the story of the Fire Station


Over 250 people have supported our Art Happens campaign so far and we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has donated to the project. There are just seven days left to go so please continue to help us spread the word about the Fire Station as we really need to reach our target to kit out the Fire Station.

Read on to discover the fascinating history of this beautiful Grade II-listed fire station and 6a architects’ designs to restore and convert it into a new contemporary art space.

Camberwell Fire Station, as this building was originally called, dates from 1867 and was designed by prolific fire station architect Edward Cresy Jr. The station was used by the London Fire Brigade until 1925 when a new building was constructed on the corner site next door to meet the new requirements of the shift system. This was replaced by the present Peckham Road Fire Station, which opened on the adjoining site in 1990. For many years after it ceased operation as a Fire Station, the building housed the administrative and factory space of Kennedy’s Sausages who used the building for their sausage and pie business.

This is the earliest known surviving purpose-built fire station in London, if not nationally, and has historic significance in representing the 1866 formation of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, the first public authority provision of fire protection in London. This is readable in the architecture of the building as seen in 6a’s drawing on the tea towel and print rewards, in particular the appliance bays through which the horse-drawn carriages would enter and exit the building and the accommodation for fire officers and their families on the upper storeys (visible in the above archive photograph with the children of the fire officers seen peeking through the window). A decorative wrought-iron bracket is located in the centre of the elevation; a replica of the fire lamp visible in the historical photograph from 1905 will be installed on the original wrought-iron bracket on the façade.

6a’s designs for the Fire Station retain the sense of a big house with civic intentions. They have worked with the original layout of the rooms, adjusting openings to bring long views and light through the new spaces. The designs incorporate plans for a new archive room for the SLG, new galleries, a communal kitchen, education space and artist’s studio. The original brickwork has been retained and will provide a contrast to the luminous interior. A cobbled forecourt has been painstakingly repaired and re-laid, creating a large external space at the front of the Fire Station. The original floor in the entranceway has been retained. Paved with narrow brick tiles in a V-shape converging on a central gutter, these would have previously provided grip for horses’ hooves and allowed water to drain easily.

Your donations will help us put the finishing touches to the building so that we can welcome visitors to the Fire Station this September and meet the increasing demand for our spaces and projects. With your help we can substantially increase our capacity to bring new work by established and lesser-known artists to an area of London with a fascinating local history. We won’t receive any of the money raised so far unless we hit our target by Monday 2 July so please help us spread the word about the project and donate today.

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