Former fire station undisturbed since the 1960s rediscovered by curious workers

With a hose coiled in the corner and uniforms hung up along the wall, it looks as though firefighters have only just left this station.

  • A fire station was installed in the basement of a munitions factory in Dudley in 1916 as a safety precaution
  • Building was sold to Bean Cars in 1935 before being taken over by a company owned by Co Op in the 1940s
  • The site is believed to have been last used in the 1960s and remained untouched until earlier this year
  • Canvas hoses, a gas mask and a diesel-powered pump were found alongside five firefighter uniforms

But firefighters last worked here nearly 50 years ago.

The station remained untouched and ready for service in the basement of a former Co-op factory in Dudley, West Midlands, until it was rediscovered by curious workers on the site this year.

Half-finished bottles of lemonade, a diesel-powered pump and a gas masks were all discovered in the underground room, alongside jackets and caps that were hung on pegs beneath names scrawled in chalk.

Untouched: The fire station was unearthed in the basement of a former Co Op factory in Dudley, West Midlands

Untouched: The fire station was unearthed in the basement of a former Co Op factory in Dudley, West Midlands

Ready for actions: Five firefighter uniforms hang on the wall of the station, beneath names scrawled in white chalk

Ready for actions: Five firefighter uniforms hang on the wall of the station, beneath names scrawled in white chalk

Abandoned: A single gas mask is left on one of the hooks. Right, a half-finished bottle of sparkling lemonade was also found

Abandoned: A single gas mask is left on one of the hooks. Right, a half-finished bottle of sparkling lemonade was also found

Cluttered: Documents including an equipment list and inter-departmental competition programme were also unearthed

Cluttered: Documents including an equipment list and inter-departmental competition programme were also unearthed

The fire station was built as part of a munitions factory in 1916 and was sold after the war ended. Factories of a certain size were legally required to have their own working fire crew in case of a blaze breaking out.

The building was sold to Bean Cars in 1935 before being taken over by a shelving company that was part of the Co Op group in the 1940s.

Historians believe the Co Op group added their insignia – CWP – to the fire uniforms when they moved into the premises.

Shopfitting company The Allan Nuttall Partnership bought the factory in 1986 and it was one of their employees who discovered the site.

Marketing manager Anna Bramford came across some old keys during renovation work on the factory.

She said: ‘It was just amazing. There are people who have been on this site for 30 or so years who had never heard of it. People just thought it was an urban myth. No-one’s actually been down there until now.

Perfectly preserved: The pump trailer, powered by a petrol or diesel engine, is still bright red with 'CWS DUDLEY' in gold

Perfectly preserved: The pump trailer, powered by a petrol or diesel engine, is still bright red with ‘CWS DUDLEY’ in gold

On call: Six canvas hoses are coiled up neatly on the wall of the station, as though they are ready for the next call out

On call: Six canvas hoses are coiled up neatly on the wall of the station, as though they are ready for the next call out

On call: Factories of a certain size were at the time legally required to have their own fire service on site

On call: Factories of a certain size were at the time legally required to have their own fire service on site

‘When I walked in I just couldn’t believe it. It looks like they just finished work one day and then never came back, it really is a time capsule.

‘It’s the little things, like a half-drunk bottle of lemonade and exercise programmes that show how they used to compete in games with other services.

‘This year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary of being in business and we thought we’d explore more of the buildings rooms which have never been opened.

‘No one expected to find anything of much interest but the secret fire station is a treasure trove of old artefacts.’

She added: ‘We really want to get the fire hose working too. The most impressive piece in there is the pump trailer, powered by a petrol or diesel engine.

‘Still bright red, with ‘CWS DUDLEY’ lettered in gold on the front, it looks as though all it needs is a bit of a wipe down. There’s still air in its tyres and just a few spots of oil on the floor beneath.

‘It really is amazing to see it all documented inside the room which has been left completely undisturbed for more than half a century.’