London Road Fire Station needs little introduction. A local and national stalwart, it has greeted residents and visitors to Manchester for over a hundred years. In its infancy London Road Fire Station evoked the very best in design principles and architectural philosophy, with the best in the business competing to design it in 1899. It remains unchallenged over a century later.
Designed by Woodhouse, Willoughby and Langham architects, London Road Fire Station was completed in 1906. Set within one of the largest metropolis areas of its time, Manchester was the ninth largest city in the world with a population of 2.35 million, it quickly became an iconic structure for the region and remains so today.
Architectural design 1899 - 1906
The fire station has important social history connections as a mixed-use municipal building. When it opened Lord Mayor Thewlis declared London Road: “The finest fire station in the world”. It served and celebrated the public emergency services of this evolving city and has stood the test of time.
Deemed to be one of the finest examples of a 20th Century fire station, London Road is a unique building with a heritage that is arguably one of the most interesting historic examples in the UK and around the world. Grade II* listed, the building is exceptional for its combination of bank, coroner’s court, fire, ambulance and police stations, gas meter testing station and living quarters all in one complex.
“I have good memories of working and living there, it was of a parochial nature – although it was in the city centre, everyone knew everyone else.”
Paddy Moore, retired London Road fireman
The building was not only home to firefighters, but their families too, and over the course of its life it witnessed births, deaths, weddings, breakups and a fair few merry nights, until its closure in 1986.
Harnessing the emotional connection of this family spirit is a crucial part of the London Road Fire Station story. People lived, socialised and created memories here, as Lynne Bairstow, a retired firewoman recalls: “It was my first station. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, made good friends and met my husband there – I became part of the London Road Family”.