National Emergency Services Museum
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
What’s not to like about the National Emergency Services Museum? Set in a former Victorian police and fire station, it’s packed with memorabilia themed around those people who come to the rescue when you have to dial 999.
The museum is very hands on… there are all manner of emergency vehicles that kids and adults can jump on and pretend they’re haring around the corner to the next emergency. Some of them even have flashing lights or other interactive bits and pieces – look out for the ambulance that has a dummy in the back and a (not working) defibrillator with which you can practice your revival techniques.
Some of our favourite bits include the original cells from back when they housed prisoners from Sheffield’s gang wars back in the 1920s and 30s – who thought that this northern steel town was once as notorious as Chicago? The cells – stark, dank and tiny – are also pumped with a special smell that recreates what it might have been like when they were in real-life action. Take it from us, it’s not pleasant.
Another favourite is the working fire station pole – although, sadly health and safety concerns means regular folk can’t drop from the third floor to the ground. Ask one of the staff though and they’ll demo it, as long as you first press the siren button.
Of course, it’s not all fun and games – saving people’s lives is a serious business. There are exhibits that show off how the emergency services crank things up a notch when things go wrong, as well as a particularly poignant memorial to the victims of 9/11. Many of the staff here are former firemen and they had close links with some of the New York ‘ladders’ that lost men and women on that fateful day. Sign one of the notes of remembrance and they all get sent back to NYC.
On a lighter side, young ones will delight at trying to find the six stuffed toys – each depicting a different character from the emergency services – that are hidden around the museum. Find all six, and you might even get a special prize on the way out.
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