The Old Fire Station, once the forecourt of the historic Salford Central Fire Station, has been transformed into a brand-new café, bar and bakery which opened for business on July 4th.
This incredible venue has been re-invented into Salford’s newest hot spot, offering the best in Salford’s brewing, a sensational sourdough bakery, freshly served coffee and various kitchen pop-ups from local independents.
Now, a tranquil public space with trees, and benches, overarched by a war memorial dedicated to the brave men of the Lancashire Fusiliers, it has been given a new lease of life by the visionary team at the University of Salford.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
A red brick and buff terracotta building, the Salford Central Fire Station was designed by H. Kirkly and opened its doors in 1903.
For decades, it stood as a symbol of safety and heroism, extending its fire cover to Prestwich and taking over the running of ambulances from the police.
Albert Bentley, the fire station’s first-ever chief fire officer, brought revolutionary changes to the way fire services were delivered in the city.
The square itself, Albert Bentley Place, bears a testament to his legacy as a firefighter.
A Tale of Two Fire Stations
In stark contrast to the Manchester Central Fire Station on Whitworth Street, which fell into a state of decay after closure, the Salford Central Fire Station underwent a remarkable transformation.
The University of Salford recognised the historical significance of the building and embarked on a mission to preserve its heritage while giving it a modern purpose.
The Grand Rebirth
Today, the main building of the Salford Central Fire Station proudly houses Salford University’s Council Chamber and three small boardrooms.
As a tribute to its firefighting past, the university retained the fireman’s poles, adding character to the newly redesigned meeting spaces.
Adorning the walls are captivating portraits of university chancellors, skilfully painted by the renowned Salford artist, Harold Riley, whose impressive works are now a part of the Harold Riley Archive housed within the vicinity.
Adjacent to the main building, the former fire engine bays have been brilliantly reimagined into a contemporary café, bar, and bakery, while preserving their historical essence.
The Lark Hill Brewery, located inside the Old Fire Station, serves a delightful selection of craft ales, including Hazy IPAs, Cask Ale, Wheat Beer, Sour Beer, West Coast IPA, and Imperial Stout, crafted with utmost care and top-quality ingredients.
A Feast for the Senses
The Old Fire Station’s café, with its charming indoor and outdoor seating, caters to early birds and brunch enthusiasts, serving freshly made sandwiches, brunches, grilled cheese, salads, and more until 2 pm daily.
But the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the sensational artisan sourdough bakery, where a team of talented bakers crafts incredible masterpieces fresh from the on-site ovens.
The inviting aroma of freshly brewed coffee from Trafford-based Blossom Coffee Roasters and a variety of ethically sourced teas complements the delectable delights on offer.
The website states: “We’re building on our rich heritage of brewing beer and baking bread.
“James Prescott Joule – physicist, mathematician and brewer – was based a few steps away from Lark Hill Brewery.
“The construction of Salford Technical College was funded to “distil wisdom out of whisky, genius out of gin, and capacity for business out of beer”.
“And baking was taught at the Royal Technical College until the 1960s!”
More Than Just a Venue
The revival of the Old Fire Station isn’t just a feat of architecture and gastronomy; it’s a celebration of community and history.
Albert Bentley Place stands as a testament to the bravery and dedication of the Lancashire Fusiliers, honouring their memory through the grand war memorial designed by J and H Patteson.
The university’s commitment to sustainability, supporting local suppliers, and engaging the wider Salford community ensures that the venue becomes a melting pot of cultural exchange and camaraderie.
A Fusion of Past and Present
The Old Fire Station is not merely a place to eat, drink, and gather; it represents a bridge between the past and the future.
As part of the £2.5bn Salford Crescent Masterplan, it connects the university staff and students with the wider Salford community, fostering a spirit of togetherness and inclusivity.
The Old Fire Station has been re-invented by the incredible team at The University of Salford.
Siobhan Youngs, Operations Manager, said: ‘We are delighted to bring the Old Fire Station back to life! We are very much about collaborating with local suppliers, sourcing great quality products and being as sustainable as possible.
“We want the café, bar, and brewery to be a place for the local community, our students, staff, and visitors to Salford to come together and enjoy our incredible food and drink created by our extremely talented team!
“We look forward to welcoming you to The Old Fire Station.”
An Invitation to the Community
The Old Fire Station welcomes one and all to experience the charm of Salford’s history, the camaraderie of its people, and the delights of its culinary offerings.
Open Tuesday to Friday from 8 am to 9 pm and Saturdays from 9 am to 9 pm, the venue offers a myriad of delectable treats and craft ales.
Brunch will be served from opening until 2pm daily, with the bakery closing at 5pm, followed by kitchen pop-ups and drinks served into the evening.
From catching up with colleagues over brunch to enjoying kitchen pop-ups from local traders and winding down with a refreshing beverage at the bar, there’s something for everyone at the Old Fire Station.