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Fire service to axe museum for space

PUBLISHED: 10:55 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:19 12 August 2010

A COLLECTION of firefighting artefacts dating back well into the Victorian age are in danger of being separated. Items including a horse-drawn steam fire engine and ancient vehicles from Bromley, are part of Kent Fire and Rescue Museum, which is due to

A COLLECTION of firefighting artefacts dating back well into the Victorian age are in danger of being separated.

Items including a horse-drawn steam fire engine and ancient vehicles from Bromley, are part of Kent Fire and Rescue Museum, which is due to be closed to create more office space for staff.

Officials at the authority concluded they must move the museum from their head quarters in Tovil, Maidstone, at a meeting last Thursday.

Their preferred option is to find a suitable new location for the entire museum or, if this is not possible, send the items to different museums across the county.

Artefacts include original telegrams sent out asking for the fire service to attend a fire, to old horse-drawn fire trucks.

Historian Roger Mardon has campaigned for the museum's conservation and spoke at the meeting.

He said: "I explained that, in my view, the museum should preferably be maintained at the service headquarters but, if that were not to be, it was important to preserve the collection intact.

"Whilst it is disappointing that the museum will have to move, I am encouraged by this support for keeping the collection together. Every effort must now be made to find somewhere where this can be done."

Another option that involves creating a virtual museum to be accessed through the internet will also be looked into.

A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: "The plan is now to look at options that will take the history of the service directly out to local people. This could mean finding a new home for the collection that will bring in the visitor numbers it deserves and relocating some artefacts to museums where schools can learn more about their fire service history."

He added: "Ensuring that the people of Kent and Medway have access to the Service's proud history is very important to us.

"We want to increase access to our historic documents and artefacts so that local school children, history, fire service enthusiasts and former firefighters and their families can find out more about the

service.

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