In a complete building full to the rafters with vehicles, sirens, bells and all kinds of rare and curious contraptions the Museum never sees a dull day. Part of collecting all of these wonderful items and their equally wonderful stories is donations, whether that be the teacher who popped in with a parent’s old Firefighter uniform, a lady from France with her Father’s police diaries from his days at West Bar or going out to visit the kind individuals who choose to place their treasures in our trust. A while ago now, but still a fond memory, myself and the Museum’s archivist got in the car and drove to a lady called Pauline De Rouffignac who had contacted us with the intention of donating items relating to her late husband’s life as a Sheffield Firefighter. Met with a cuppa we were introduced to the excitement, community, bravery and kindness of her late husband, Guy’s life as a Firefighter in the late 60s/early 70s. Pauline whilst donating a signed print by Joe Scarborough alongside photographs, badges, pins and buttons graciously allowed us an insight into the family lives of the Firefighting community in the period, recalling stories of getting stuck in lifts, saving people’s lives and waiting on a wall with their new baby daughter whilst Guy selflessly ran to assist with a local chimney fire, spotted on their return from the maternity ward at hospital.
As we chatted, Pauline discussed the many Christmas parties at Division Street Station with rooms decorated in milk top silvers and visits from Father Christmas. These cherished memories show the oodles of community spirit indicative of the Fire service in Sheffield throughout the 20th century. From receiving a ball of string as a Thank-You for the efforts in putting out the Sheffield Mudford’s fire to giving up sugar in his tea when the catering ran out throughout his double shifts during the Sheffield Gales; whilst contributing physically with her items, Pauline allowed us to be party to memories of an exciting period for the Services and more importantly, get to know the likes of Guy De Rouffignac, the courageous and community-driven Firefighters of the era.
Whilst continuing to enhance our collection remains important, meeting local people and listening to memories allows unique and valuable access to a much more personal, elusive and incredibly valuable history.
These stories are what make history! Many thanks to Pauline De Rouffignac for her time, candidness and allowing us the privilege of coming to know the remarkable Guy De Rouffignac and his career.
If you would like to donate, whether it is your time, stories or objects, contact us on 01142491999 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org