The National Emergency Services Museum is a self-funded organisation dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Emergency Services and their communities. We are regularly involved in local community work, wider national and international projects as well as events all over the country.
The National Emergency Services Museum is housed in a unique Victorian combined Police, Fire and Ambulance station on West Bar, opposite the Law Courts of Sheffield City Centre. In this Tardis-like building we house a treasure trove of items, from a 47 foot lifeboat to the Insurance Fire Brigade's beer tokens! With over a million items in our collection and over 60 vehicles on-site we tell the stories of the Emergency Services and society through dynamic, interactive and hands-on displays, exhibitions and events. We offer a day out where all the family can enjoy a real Fire Engine ride experience, climb a mini climbing wall, explore our smoky Blitz exhibition, jump on a Police motorbike and tread the corridor of our Victorian Police cells. With three floors jam-packed with items you can climb on, get in and try on you won't be short of things to do! With our all-new year tickets you can now visit as many times as you like within the year so you'll never miss out on our new exhibitions and most new events.
Sheffield has been the home of Emergency related museums and collections since the original Sheffield Fire Museum in 1931. The original museum was the idea of Superintendent Tom Breaks and was located at the Fire Station then known as Rockingham Street Station. Some of the items from the original museum, along with the personal collection of Tom Breaks can still be seen in the museum today. In the late 1970's firefighters from South Yorkshire Fire Service started to add to and reorganise the collection that had been on display across many fire stations to reopen a Fire Service Museum here in Sheffield. The collection grew over the years and in the early 1980's relocated to its current home in the former Police, Fire and Ambulance Station at West Bar.
During the 1990's the collection developed and expanded, to include the ever growing collection of Police items held by South Yorkshire Police. 2014 saw the museum's largest and most ambitious change to date by becoming the National Museum for the Emergency Services, bringing Sheffield its first and only National Museum.
West Bar Station, completed in 1900 and designed by architect Joseph Norton, was built in an era concerned with both form and function. As a creation of the Chief Constable of Sheffield, John Jackson and the Chief Fire Officer, Superintendent William Frost, the Fire Station featured lots of cutting-edge technology such as the symbolic Pole Drop; originally an American concept, the ‘Hales Swinging’ system and electric bells.
It was John Jackson (portrait above the fireplace in the entrance) who saw a need for one of the first combined Fire, Police and Ambulance Stations. This shared Station had a layout which allocated the Police the left side of the ground floor. This included 4 cells, 12 stables, an office, an interview room, the inspector’s office and an enquiries desk. This area is now the museum’s reception. The building itself saw service through both World Wars and survived the Sheffield Blitz, however, fragments of shrapnel and scars can still be found in the front brickwork of the building.
In the cobbled area of the building was West Bar’s ambulance, listed as ‘ambulance number two’, this would have been operated by the firefighters along with mortuary vehicles.
The remainder of the building such as the engine house, first and second floors made up the Fire Station.