Auxiliary Fire Service at McDonald Road Fire Station

Auxiliary Fire Service at McDonald Road Fire Station

The new museum is in the former engine room of the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) section of McDonald Road Fire Station, a purpose built fire station completed in 1966. The Auxiliary Fire Service was initially created just before the Second World War (1938) to provide 4 extra firefighters for every existing firefighter to deal with the Blitzkrieg threat Germany had shown by its intervention in the Spanish Civil War. In 1941 the AFS was amalgamated into the National Fire Service (NFS) and when that was disbanded following hostilities (1948) the AFS was reformed within the Civil Defence Service to assist in dealing with any Nuclear attack.

This station part, originally a six-bay engine room, was built to house AFS units from London Road, Leith, etc bringing them all together under one roof.  When in 1968 the AFS was disbanded, part of the premises was given over to the Braidwood and Rushbrook Museum which brought together various historical appliances and artefacts which had been kept ostensibly in Leith Fire Station, which was closed following this station’s opening, and in Fire Stations around the Edinburgh area. The Museum functioned here for nearly 20 years on an ad hoc basis where entry was by arrangement with the station personnel and indeed some of our present volunteers were part of that set up.

In the early 80’s the engine room at the Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade Brigade Headquarters at Lauriston became vacant, when the station was moved to new premises at Tollcross, and the Museum moved in in 1985. Now known as the Museum of Fire it became part of the Community Safety department which sought to ‘sell’ a fire safety message whilst engaging the public in our Service history. That Museum was open 5 days a week until 2016 when the building, now part of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, was sold off and the Museum collection was moved into storage.

That brings us to here today where once again the Museum will open on the site following an extensive renovation of both the McDonald Road Fire Station and this part of the building. We have a purpose built interior featuring appliances, artefacts and many modern features, some of which could only be dreamed about when the Museum first opened in 1968.

1939 Coatbridge AFS
AFS parade possibly Meadowbank as Arthur Seat in background