Fire museum bid scrapped

Weedon Depot
Weedon Depot

Plans to open a museum in Weedon showcasing the largest collection of fire engines and equipment in the UK have been scrapped.

The Fire Services National Museum Trust (FSNMT) has been located in the former Royal Ordnance Depot in Weedon since 1996 with the aim of opening FireWorld – the national firefighting and rescue museum.

The trust has the largest historical collection of fire engines and equipment in the UK. However, with years of setbacks at the site, trustees have now reluctantly decided to relocate the entire collection from Weedon.

Neil Wallington, chairman of the Fire Services National Museum Trust, said: “Trustees have reviewed their future options for FireWorld and have agreed that there is no alternative but to urgently explore a relocation of the entire FireWorld collection to a more suitable site. This work is now in progress.”

The trust said it was looking at possibly relocating to Gloucestershire but would ideally like to remain in the East Midlands region.

FSNMT, which has fire memorabilia going back more than 200 years, moved to Weedon after being invited by the development company which owned the site in 1996.

A heritage element was required to fulfil part of the planning consent for their visitor attraction centre proposal.

Planning problems continued on the site, delaying the opening of the museum to the public, and in 2012 the owners sold the depot.

The trust was then asked to vacate four of the buildings at the depot, resulting in the closure of on-site restoration work.

Arthur Hart, former parish councillor and vice chairman of the trust, added: “It’s a great loss to the whole county. Had it come to fruition then it would have been a visitor attraction for the public. It would have opened up the depot to the public who don’t get to go in and enjoy the historical buildings.

“We note with interest the article in last week’s Daventry Express quoting DDC saying that the depot is a huge site of national historical significance, and ask where has DDC been for the last 30 years?

“There have been four owners of the depot since it was closed, three of whom submitted genuine plans, but got nowhere. The depot has been there since 1803 and it is every authority’s duty to see the listed buildings are preserved.”