Under the plans, the ground floor of the former fire station in Maclure Road will be renovated to create a dedicated exhibition space for the museum’s many exhibits.
The move would more than triple the museum’s current floor space from 300 to 1,000 square metres and enable its many exhibits, including a fire station dating back to the 1700s, to be showcased in all their glory.
The project, which is being led by the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum Trust, with support from Rochdale Borough Council and the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, has already been awarded £108,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop the plans in more detail.
They will be on display to the public this Friday and Saturday before the second stage bid is submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in February. A decision on the bid is expected in the summer.
The proposals, if agreed, will also enable the museum to open four days a week, rather than one, enabling them to triple their visitor number from just under 5,000 to 15,000.
The museum, which has been open since 1983, hosts 60 school visits year, which youngsters from as far and wide as Dewsbury, Bradford and Southport all coming to see its exhibits.
A new café and education centre would also be added if the bid is successful, and some paid posts would be created to help manage the museum, which is currently staffed entirely by volunteers.
Bob Bonner, from the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum Trust, who worked in the fire service for many years and has volunteered at the museum since it opened, said: “This is a really exciting time for the museum, with visitor numbers topping 5,000 last year for the first time in our history.
“This museum has been a part of Rochdale’s history for more than 30 years and thousands of school children from across the North West have learned about the fire service and fire safety in this very building. With this lottery bid, we could make it even bigger and better and we would love to share our ideas with Rochdale residents.”
As well as representatives from the council, RDA and the museum, residents can meet the scheme’s architects, Salford-based OMI, as well as the designers, Leach Design Studio.
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture at Rochdale Borough Council, said:
“This fantastic museum has been part a part of the cultural life of our borough for more than three decades and this is due in no small part to the incredible work the volunteers do. The council is really keen to ensure this asset continues to play a major role in the future and that’s why we’re helping the volunteers in every way we can.”
The consultation events will take place this Friday (12) from 9am until 4pm, at the Fire Service Museum and again on Saturday (13) at the Rochdale Exchange shopping centre from 10am until 2pm.
The museum opens every Friday and the first Sunday of each month.
For more information about this story, please contact Rochdale Borough Council’s media team on 01706 926002 or email@example.com