Kent Firefighting Museum.
KENT FIREFIGHTING MUSEUM.
When the museum at Kent Fire & Rescue Service HQ (Tovil — Maidstone) closed and went into storage in 2010, the future of the collection was uncertain. But a Stakeholder Group of former volunteers and supporters of the museum was formed to consider options for the future. There was a clear consensus that the museum should be saved and that a way should be found to re-open it to the public.
The Stakeholder Group set up a steering committee to evaluate options, and after much hard work, arrangements were made to occupy new premises and form a charity established to run the museum. The charity has been formally approved and registered by the Charity Commission and is called the Kent Firefighting Museum.
The official opening of the museum by Baroness Blackstone (Patron of the museum) took place at 11:00 am on Saturday, August 30, 2014. It was a fun day full of activities and special exhibits to mark this important occasion. Since opening day there have been over 9,000 visitors to the museum.
The museum operates at the Woodlands Garden Centre at Ash Lane, Ash, TN15 7EG, which is near West Kingsdown, not far from Brands Hatch on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.
Main exhibit area and it is free admission.
The owners of the Woodlands garden centre Kim and Wayne Barr have family connections with the Kent Fire & Rescue Service and are great supporters of the museum. The extensive Woodlands site retails a range of merchandise, and in addition to being a garden centre, there is a busy bistro and the whole site is fully accessible for people with disabilities. There is a recent building addition to resemble a scaled down Fire Station that houses an 1897 Shand Mason Steam fire engine.
With a "Dennis" fire engine for children (and parents, grandparents etc.) to play on. Kent Firefighting Museum has an established Friends Association to succeed the Stakeholder Group and it is envisaged that the Friends will be a valuable source of support and ideas for the future of the charity, as well as providing much needed income to keep the museum going.
Commenting on progress to date with the charity and Friends, Chairman of Trustees and former Chief Fire Officer of Kent, Jeremy Beech said:
We are delighted to have achieved charitable status. We need to enrol more volunteers to staff the museum and to give us one day a month of their time between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm. We have a team at The Woodlands and we would be delighted to welcome anyone with an interest in fire service history to become a volunteer. Volunteers will be our "game makers" and will supervise visitors and hopefully have a very enjoyable time being involved in developing the museum as a visitor attraction and a learning resource.
The museum was recently (October 18, 2015) awarded a certificate for "Preservation" from the Council for Kentish Archaeology.
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