It was a fantastic treat to finally get out and about with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire again at the weekend. They are such a talented bunch!
The National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield is an intriguing place. Entirely run by volunteers, it’s based in the old Police/Fire station on West Bar and is packed to the rafters with old fire-engines, police cars and ambulances. I usually avoid drawing vehicles as they are several miles outside my comfort zone, but I thought I’d give it a bash. Bearing in mind that about 80% of the vehicles on display are fire-engines, I’m slightly disappointed that my sketchbook doesn’t successfully convey how much RED there was, but here are my sketches anyway.
After lunch I went inside and listened to a very short video about the making of US firefighting helmets on loop about 63 times while I drew international firefighting helmets in the International Firefighters Exhibition. It was actually very interesting but, if you’re planning a visit, I’d say it’s probably not necessary to factor a whole hour into your schedule for this.
The Great Hall of Firefighting in the next room contains loads of history of the South Yorkshire Fire Service, including some wonderful old newspaper clippings (my favourite!). The little portraits below are taken from a report of a fire that broke out in a factory on Matilda Street around 1930, in which all four men were injured when the roof collapsed on top of them.
Superintendent Breaks is a fascinating character. Surviving this and several other catastrophes, the Sheffield Star once described him as a “dauntless and indomitable leader [who] flirted with death a thousand times”. He went on to be appointed by the Home Office as the first Inspector of the Fire Brigades Division in 1937 (later becoming Deputy Chief Inspector), and was awarded an OBE in 1940. Read more about Tom Breaks here: Sheffield Fire Brigade History.
Finally, I attempted to draw a police car. I don’t like this drawing very much, but I enjoyed trying. Oh and I only discovered the (super creepy) police cells 5 minutes before we left, so I’ll have to go back and investigate those at some point. Incidentally, the museum is believed to be haunted and you can go on ghost hunts there! Anyone? No?
Please go and have a look at the other amazing sketchers’ sketches of the day over on the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire Facebook group. Theirs are much more red than mine.