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Our exhibitions and spaces

Whether you're learning and playing, exploring and discovering or wanting to relax and enjoy, our exhibitions will tick every box. From the young to the young at heart we try and tailor all our exhibitions so that there is something for every visitor to enjoy.

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Daring Detectives & Dastardly Deeds

Housed in our original Victorian police cells, discover the intriguing history of 19th century crime and punishment in our new exhibition, Daring Detectives & Dastardly Deeds. Learn about the life of a bobby on the beat and meet some of the thieves, forgers and murderers that stalked the darkened streets.

Featuring star items from the newly-acquired archive of Donald Sutherland Swanson, the detective in charge of the Jack the Ripper case, including the 'marginalia' in which Swanson names the man he believed to be the infamous Whitechapel murderer. With other original documents, weaponry and objects on show, this exhibition gets you up close and personal with the police and their prey. Try your hand at solving a crime, see if you could cut it as a 'peeler' and experience life in the cells.

This new exhibition has been created thanks to support from South Yorkshire Police, private collectors, other museums and universities from around the UK. 

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The Police Gallery

Originally the police stables when our building opened in 1900, this area would have housed up to 12 horses. Later, when the force's motorised division moved into West Bar, this became 'the garage' where mechanics would maintain the fleet of police vehicles for the area. 

With the museum's extensive collection of police vehicles, this exhibition area  showcases just some of the amazing police vehicles in our collection, focusing not just on their wheels but also on the equipment and specialist departments used by police forces then and now.

 

Climb inside our armoured land rover and try on police riot equipment.

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Blood, Bandages and Blue Lights

Our cobbled courtyard once housed Sheffield's first free public ambulance, making it the perfect location to house our Blood, Bandages and Blue Lights exhibition. 

This exhibition was created to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service in 2018. It tells the story of the development of the UK ambulance service, including the vital work of the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) ambulance service during World War II, and first aiders.

 

Among the vehicles on display is one of the UK's oldest surviving horse-drawn ambulances, which originally served in Barnsley in 1885. Explore other vintage vehicles, try your hand as a paramedic and learn about some 20th century pioneers of the service.

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Outdoor Zone

This area of the museum site houses some of our 'Mega Machines' and all of them are vital assets to the emergency services.

 

The star exhibit is our 47 foot long, RNLI Tyne Class Lifeboat, called 'the City of Sheffield'. This amazing boat once patrolled waters around the UK, serving as far afield as Whitby in North Yorkshire and Poole in Dorset. 

Whilst exploring the yard you may also spot the only surviving 'police house' on this site; one of a number of small houses once owned by the police for their officers to live in. Over the years most of these buildings have sadly been lost. 

 

Come face-to-face with these amazing vehicles and get up close and personal by climbing onboard.

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The Blitz

The Blitz played a significant part in the history of the emergency services with the formalisation of the NFS (National Fire Service), the use of police officers as stretcher bearers and even the use of Boy Scouts as rescuers!

Our recreated Blitzed house sets the scene of these dark nights and uses lights, sounds, smoke and smells to bring the 1940s to life. Sit inside a air raid shelter and listen to stories told by people who lived through the air raids. 

Climb inside our Austin K2 fire engine and let the voice of the last surviving fireman to serve in the Sheffield Blitz tell his story.

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The Engine House

The Engine House has been the home to fire engines for more than 120 years. Originally built to house three horse drawn engines when this was a working fire station, the museum now displays some of its own collection of historic fire vehicles in this space.

 

From hand-pulled parish pumps to motorised vehicles - including a 1938 Leyland which is the last remaining engine to have served in the Sheffield Blitz - there is plenty for visitors to explore.

See exhibits on display that tell more about the fire service at the turn of the century and learn more about the development of vehicles and technology, from horse-drawn to steam power and on to motor power.

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For King and Country

Opening later in 2021

 

This new exhibition will be dedicated to the story of the emergency and rescue services during World War I. The exhibition will house exhibits from the Victoria Cross Trust and a horse-drawn horse ambulance from the RSPCA. 

Walk through a recreated section of WWI ramparts, try on uniforms and discover the story of mines rescue workers and life on the front line. 

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Fiery Blaze to Fire Brigades

If we need the fire brigade, we ring 999 and we know help will be on the way. But what did people do about before the advent of organised fire brigades?

The Fiery Blaze to Fire Brigades exhibition tells the story of the birth of the modern fire service. from the Great Fire of London through to the 1920s. It explores how the early insurance brigades - which would only attend a fire if they were paid - grew into more professional, organised crews.

 

With displays including fire pumps, equipment and uniforms dating back two hundred years, discover the amazing history of the fire brigade.

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Today's Emergency Services

The second floor of the building once housed individual bedrooms for the police, firemen who lived onsite from 1900 until 1924. Six of these former bedrooms now form our 'Today's Emergency Services' exhibition. This exhibition takes a brief look at the work of the modern emergency services including mountain rescue, RNLI, HM Coastguard and the Air Ambulance Service. 

You'll also find an interactive house fire and road traffic display, and a driving simulator to test your road skills. Jump on one of our police motorbikes and experience a real police chase. 

Our archives and collection stores are also held on this floor; why not take a peek through one of the windows to see what treasures you can spot.

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Temporary exhibition space

This exhibition space is located on the first floor of the museum and is used for temporary exhibits and displays.

It is currently hosting a mini exhibition dedicated to artwork created for fire station open days during the 1980s and 90s. The three large structures have been created and painted by firefighters, and each tells a unique story about life in the service. Also on display is the station door from the former Division Street Fire Station in Sheffield, painted to show a whole host of stories about the firefighters who worked there. 

You will also find the ever-popular Ernie the Engine in his new home; hop on board for a photo!

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Learning and Discovery room 1

Learning and Discovery room 1 was originally the mess room (dining room) when our building was an operational station.

Our learning rooms are located on the first floor of the museum and are used for visiting groups, schools and conferences. Room 1 has a capacity of 60 people seated. This area of the museum is also used during school holidays for activities and crafts and as additional space on event weekends.

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Learning and Discovery room 2

Learning and Discovery room 2 was originally the kitchen of the police, fire and ambulance station.

Our learning rooms are located on the first floor of the museum and are used for visiting groups, schools and conferences. Room 2 has a capacity of 30 people seated. This area of the museum is also used during school holidays for activities and crafts and as additional space on event weekends.

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'The Tack Room' Coffee Shop

Our cosy Coffee Shop is located on the ground floor and can be accessed directly from the museum entrance. It is housed in the station's original tack room, where the 'tack' or harnesses from the horses would be hung in front of the open fire to dry, so it's name reflects the history of the space.

Our Coffee Shop is also open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-3pm, and can be enjoyed even if you're not visiting the rest of the museum. We're a perfect stop-off for a takeaway or sit-down cuppa!