Evacuating the Old Fire Station

The old fire station, on Crook Lane, at the back of the Museum has been used as a large object store for several decades. A 1948 facilities appraisal stated “Former commercial premises adapted for use during the reign of the National Fire Service but suitable for use for some years to come” (www.ddfire.gov.uk). By 1969 it was out of use, as a new, modern Fire Station was built immediately  behind it, on Wilson Street. The Museum took over the space, using it as an object store for archaeological and social history items.

An old photograph of the Fire Station in Barnard Castle [Image from http://www.ddfire.gov.uk]
As part of the plan to merge the fire brigade, police and ambulance services in Barnard Castle, the old fire station has been sold to Durham County Council. This meant we needed to relocate the contents in three weeks, as the building was due to be demolished. The collection was moved to temporary storage provide by Durham County Council.

Firestation exterior
The Old Fire Station on Crook Lane, Barnard Castle, Summer 2015

The store contained a range of archaeological material; including stone altars – weighing over half a ton each – and a range of social history objects, including a biere (coffin carrier).

1958.1458 RIB 732 Scargill Altar Stone
Scargill Roman Altar Stone [1958.1458 RIB 732]
Biere – Given in memory of E. Kathleen McCullagh of Gillingwood House, Romaldkirk, 1937

The first thing to be moved were hundred of bags, and crates, of animal bones and horns, from Roman Piercebridge and Chester-le-Street archaeological excavations.

Animal bones
Animal bone and horn, at the new store

With the help of Liam Glasper and Ashley Tunstall stonemasons, all the large stones were palleted, and moved by David Ward from Dunhouse Quarry.

Frosterley marble fire place
Palleted sections of a fireplace, made from Frosterly marble
Decant (22)
Wardy loading stones onto the Dunhouse Quarry lorry
Filling Garys Van
Filling Gary’s van with panelling

Once the large stones were moved Gary Burton and his team (Gary Burton Removals) came in and safely moved the rest of the collection.

Objects in temp store
Objects in the temporary store

In total it took 32 trips in Luton Vans, 4 trips by lorry – approximately 1,200 miles and 20 ton of objects have been relocated.

Karen Barker, Regional Conservator

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