Peckham Road Historic Fire Station

Restoration of the appliance bays

Peckham Road's fire station is London's earliest surviving purpose-built fire station. It was built in 1867 by the architect Edward Cresy Jnr for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, the first public authority fire protection in London. There were two appliance bays on the ground floor, next to the carriage way for the horse-drawn carriages to enter, plus accommodation for the firemen and their families on the upper floors. The upper floors are domestic in style, with moulded terracotta and polychromatic brickwork. Once the shift-working system was in place in 1920, firemen no longer needed to live at the station with their families and many fire stations went out of use. Peckham's station was replaced by a new building next door in 1925.

Once superseded, the building was used as a factory and offices by the south London business Kennedy's Sausages. Before its restoration it was derelict for thirty years and suffering significantly from water ingress and dry rot.

A grant from HOLT supported the South London Gallery's restoration of the fire station. It now acts as a contemporary arts centre and annexe to their main site, and houses archives relating to the South London Gallery and the fire station. The first floor is now an exhibition space and the top floor an artist's studio and education space. The appliance bay doors at the front of the building have been restored to their original design, while the carriage way has been restored to act as the main public entrance to the fire station.

The new gallery is an accessible and free venue encouraging people to engage in contemporary art and heritage. Programming includes a traineeship scheme for young people and a volunteering programme.

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