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University of Edinburgh College of Art set to expand into Museum of Fire

Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) is set to buy a historic former fire station as part of their latest expansion project.

ECA plans to use the building to house their new hub for arts and culture, while the museum will move to Newbridge.

The University of Edinburgh has been chosen as the ‘preferred bidder’ to take over the Lauriston Place site, which is currently home to the Edinburgh Museum of Fire.

Local opposition to the relocation of the museum has been strong, with a petition to prevent the sale of the building attracting over 5,000 signatures.

Campaigners argue that the move to a less central site would decrease attendance to the museum, which displays a range of vintage fire trucks and equipment, and served as the city’s fire service headquarters from 1824.

However, ECA promises a refurbishment that is ‘sympathetic’ to the building’s Victorian architecture and important past.

In a press release, Stuart Bennett, ECA’s acting principal, said: “We look forward to breathing new life into this iconic building […] of which the city of Edinburgh can be justifiably proud.”

Sarah O’Donnell, the director of finance and contractual services at the fire station, is also optimistic about the move.

In a press release shared with The Student, she said: “we are delighted that this important building will transfer to the care of the University of Edinburgh.

“They share our understanding of the building’s past and will ensure it remains an important part of Edinburgh’s heritage long into the future.”

Lewis Ramsay, Assistant Chief Officer and chairman of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) confirmed earlier this year that the museum’s future was secure.

“We are committed to The Museum of Fire and preserving our proud history and heritage […] and retaining the assets within the city of Edinburgh – the acknowledged birthplace of Scotland’s fire and rescue service,” Ramsay said.

The new museum will be located in a purpose built structure at Newbridge in the west of the city and will form part of the new SFRS East division headquarters.

ECA will officially take over the building in early 2017, with redevelopment works expected to begin immediately.

According to the ECA’s website, the plans for the new culture and arts hub promise to “strengthen [ECA’s] international reputation for producing graduates of the highest calibre” and are “an opportunity to re-imagine how we teach and how we learn.”

 

Image: Richard Webb

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