One of Artlyst’s favourite exhibition spaces, The South London Gallery, has been gifted the Grade II listed former Peckham Road Fire Station, by an anonymous benefactor.
The building is located across the road from the SLG’s main site. Dating from 1867 and the earliest surviving example of a purpose-built fire station in London, the derelict, four-storey building will be transformed into a new cultural centre, enabling the SLG to expand its internationally acclaimed contemporary exhibitions and events programme, and its award-winning education work with local residents. It will also make the SLG’s archives publicly accessible for the first time, supplemented by an extended archive documenting the social, economic and cultural history of the local area. This new development will enable the SLG to respond to increasing demand for its programmes, simultaneously ensuring that the Fire Station will be preserved for future generations to enjoy and provide much-needed free public space at a time of rapid change in the local area.
A successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has secured a £254,000 development grant towards planning the restoration work, the digitisation of the archives, and a programme involving local residents in shaping the future of the Fire Station. A further £1.5m has been earmarked by HLF, to be released when £2m has been raised from other sources. It is envisaged that the renovated Fire Station will open to the public in 2018.
The former Peckham Road Fire Station was awarded Grade II status in 1991 with English Heritage recognising its importance as the earliest surviving purpose-built fire station in London, if not nationally. Designed in the Gothic-style with a degree of civic character, the functions of the newly-founded Metropolitan Fire Brigade is readable in the architecture in particular the appliance bays on the frontage and the inclusion of accommodation on the upper storeys being of special interest. It operated as a Fire Station for 50 years and subsequently became the offices and factory for Kennedy’s Sausages. In 2014 the building was placed on the English Heritage At Risk Register.
The Fire Station is located 120 metres away from the South London Gallery’s main site, adjacement to Pelican estate and opposite Oliver Goldsmith Primary School and Sceaux Gardens estate.