From 1930s fire station to fully refurbished, state of the art community hub, we’re on tenterhooks for The Old Fire Station to open this September!
The Gipton Fire Station opened in 1937 to cover the large housing estates built in East Leeds. Decommissioned in Autumn 2015 after 78 years of service, the Fire Station will once again open its doors to the local community and will be home to six different community groups, hireable meeting spaces and a community run café.
Supported by Jimbo’s Fund, which was set up by late local entrepreneur Jimi Heselden and is managed by LCF, the building has undergone a careful refurbishment to retain its original features (yes, the fireman poles are still intact, and no you can’t go down them!). Fire engine red is a theme throughout the whole building, and fire buckets have even been re-purposed as light shades.
One project that seeks to celebrate the station’s history is ‘Glowing Embers’, run by charity Space2, who will also be taking up residence in the building. Capturing stories and memorabilia from local people, ex-fire officers and Leeds Museums and Galleries, Leeds primary school children will create a pop-up museum and gallery within their schools to showcase the station’s rich history within the community.
Emma Tregidden, Creative Director of Space2, commented:
“We want to ensure that the memories and relationship between the people who worked and lived here, and this iconic building, are recorded for the future and not forgotten.”
The Old Fire Station has always served its local community, both in its primary purpose but also as a venue for dances, events and community activities, even when in active service. To launch their glowing Embers project, Space2 will organise a social event called ‘The Last Dance’ featuring Fire Service brass bands and a ‘video box’ to collect memories, celebrating both the station’s past and its new beginning.
Bringing us up to date, a new and innovative project run by Zest for Life is also housed in the station. Described by The Business Desk as ‘Yorkshire’s most unique cookery school’, the social enterprise offers Leeds foodies the chance to perfect a range of recipes with resident expert chefs. From the ‘Secrets of Sourdough’ class to ‘A Taste of Louisiana,’ Leeds Cookery School has got the city’s food mafia covered. Following some serious kitchen envy from the LCF team on their site visit, we can’t wait for this to open, especially as all profits will go to a variety of charitable causes.