Just as the firefighters left it… 22 pix inside York’s old fire station, before its last hurrah

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Evocative… Names of the firefighters who worked here next to what would have been their pegs
Evocative… Names of the firefighters who worked here next to what would have been their pegs. Photographs: James Drury

‘Danger – Sudden Drop’. So says a sign at the old York Fire Station on Clifford Street.

And it serves as a useful warning: on the other side of that door is the pole which firefighters slid down every time the alarm bell rang.

The fire station hasn’t echoed to the sound of alarms, engine sirens or the clatter of boots since 2014 when the service relocated to a purpose-built HQ on Kent Street.

Now York photographer James Drury has taken these pictures of the old site, which show it has hardly changed since the firemen and women moved out.

Arched windows overlook Peckitt Street
Arched windows overlook Peckitt Street
Soon this will all be gone
Soon this will all be gone

Ultimately the building will be demolished – except for the rather fine Peckitt Street facade. That was once part of the Trinity Chapel, built in 1856, and partly converted to the fire station when it opened in 1938.

But before then there is a plan to use the old buildings for a variety of exhibitions and creative projects.

The building is being taken over temporarily by the Skippko Blank Canvas scheme. This uses empty properties as short-term space for creative and educational projects.

Almost like modern art installations
Almost like modern art installations
No smoking…
No smoking…

Owners of the building The Clifford St Venture (a joint company formed by The Helmsley Group and London Ebor Development) bought the site for £2.9 million earlier this month.

They plan to create seven homes, and a restaurant with seven flats above. But first they have agreed to lend the property to the Blank Canvas scheme.

Blank Canvas York coordinator, Phil Dodsworth is very excited about using the space and sees it as a fitting farewell for such an iconic building. He said:

We are very grateful for The Clifford Street Venture to allow us to use this space for creative purposes, prior to it being converted to a new and exciting development in the city centre and we have decided to invite proposals for how the space could be used in a creative way, during the final few weeks of its existence.


Want to get involved?

Important that the fire station had its own fire safety equipment
Important that the fire station had its own fire safety equipment

The Blank Canvas organisers are inviting proposals for use of the space before it’s demolished, and hope to stage a variety of the best ideas.

They only have the space for a short time – six to eight weeks, possibly less. But the plan is to put on as many projects as possible.

As a result they want short-term projects that can take place over one to three days.

“We have already received some great proposals, including art exhibitions, photography and painting workshops, theatre, music and PechaKucha,” said Phil.

The proposals must fit with the Skippko Blank Canvas ethos, so the space can be used for:

community projects
creative projects
non-selling exhibitions
performances
workshops
theatre
educational projects
demonstrations
displays
classes

Also, proposals must fit with Skippko’s charitable purpose which is ‘To advance the education of the public in creative and visual arts and crafts and the techniques and practice thereof’. 

Please send you proposals by email to phil.skippko@gmail.com including:

Your name and contact details
The proposal idea
A little bit about you or your organisation
Time frame and specific dates (if applicable)

The original deadline for accepting proposals has passed so we will treat all subsequent proposals on an individual basis and try and accommodate as many as possible, subject to availability.

Control panel
Control panel
A pretty striking view from the sliding doors
A pretty striking view from the sliding doors
A place to store your door ropes
A place to store your door ropes
Peeling paint inside
Peeling paint inside
No open fire here…
No open fire here…
On the ground floor
On the ground floor
Where the engines used to sit
Where the engines used to sit
Be careful where you tread…
Be careful where you tread…
There are still a few signs of the building's former use
There are still a few signs of the building’s former use
Room at the top
Room at the top
Lights and a long-gone curtain
Lights and a long-gone curtain
Entrance to the old Fire Brigade's Union office
Entrance to the old Fire Brigade’s Union office
The ultimate in downtime… the firefighter's poll
The ultimate in downtime… the firefighter’s poll
The old sink
The old sink
This striking facade on Peckitt Street will remain
This striking facade on Peckitt Street will remain
Soon to be gone, except the Peckitt Street facade: York's old fire station
Soon to be gone, except the Peckitt Street facade: York’s old fire station

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