Edinburgh Fire Museum
Edinburgh Museum of Fire

Last week I had the pleasure to travel back to (my second home) in Edinburgh. On this trip there were several things I never got a chance to do – and with my passion of studying technology history – one which I should have. Top on my list was to visit the Museum of Fire (at the Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade). A fascinating place. I spent three hours there marveling at the old fire engines, preserved fire fighting technology specimens,  as well as hearing the many stories from the volunteer who guided us through the museum.

1830 illustration of fire truck taken from Braidwood's book
1830 illustration of fire pump apparatus as published in James Braidwood’s book.

What I was most drawn to was the preserved engine used by the Edinburgh fire brigade back in 1824 (pictured below and also how it was intended to be utilized to the left). At the museum you hear of fascinating stories how there were four engines color coded to specific regions of Edinburgh (red, yellow, blue and grey). Stories of the great fire of Edinburgh in 1824, and stories of how James Braidwood helped lead and organize one of the world’s first modern fire brigades.

A 1824 Edinburgh Fire Engine
A 1824 Edinburgh Fire Engine

You also learn of the 1911 fire at the Empire Palace Theatre where the rumored egress time of 2.5 minutes is said to originate from. In the glass cabinet next to the 1824 fire engine is the original fire report as produced after the event (you can download and read a version of the book here). All in all, one could spend hours at the museum and learn a nearly 600 year history of fire fighting and technology. If you find yourself in Edinburgh be sure to check out the museum. You may need to pre book a tour though.