The Former Goulden Street Police and Fire Station

If it wasn't for the prominent stark chimney of the former Ancoats Police Station, you could easily walk by without being attracted to the structure.  In fact, in its present state it seems to be nothing more than a brick and stone curtain wall with a series of odd blue doors running down one side.  You might also be excused for never having noticed it because unless you work at one of the businesses in this part of Ancoats it is unlikely that you would stroll by. 

The documentation on listed buildings in Manchester describes this structure as the Grade II listed Ancoats Police and Ambulance Station.  The Pevsner's Guide to Manchester calls it the Ancoat's Police and Fire Station, built in 1870.  You can see it below when it was still in operation.  The images  are shown here with the permission of the Greater Manchester Police Museum and Archive.  If you visit their Flickr Photostream you can see other interesting historical images.

Pevsner says that mounted police were stationed here and within the courtyard there were stables.  The images below verify this and the idea that it was an ambulance station.  The Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford for 1909 lists the facility as follows:

"Goulden Street Fire Station, Frederick Lees, Station Officer"

"Goulden Street Police Station - A Division.  Inspectors Wm Stephen Kearney and Bernard Vardom.  Ambulance Inspectors, Frederick Walker, William Maugham, William Walket and John Sadler."


Bob Bonner of the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum gave me this summary of the Fire Station at Goulden Street:

The station opened in March 1872, as the B Division Headquarters of the Manchester Police. It was a replacement for an older station in Swan Street, which had housed a small hand fire pump since 1863.  At this time, the fire brigade came under the control of the Chief Constable, as a typical urban "police fire brigade," common in many cities.  It is understood that ambulances were also operated by the police from this site. When Goulden Street opened, the fire brigade presence was increased (over that at Swan Street) by transferring an engine and two horses from the Chief fire station in Jacksons Row.   Other minor changes in allocation occurred over the period the station was in operation.  A steam fire engine was startioned there from 1891.    Permanent fire brigade staff at Goulden Street varied between 5 and 10 over the years of operation.
A Watch Committee report dated September 1889 describes Goulden Street as consisting of :
No.1 Block    Police station, offices, parade room and dwellings over
No.2 Block    Stables, van and engine sheds, drying room with hay loft and dwellings over
No.3 Block    FIremen's room, bath room and dwelling over
Many people think that the Bendex (late Bennett) Street, which resembles a multi-bay fire station was where the fire brigade was housed, but in fact this was in a much smaller section of the building, near to the Cross Keys Street/Goulden Street corner, in a kind of covered yard.
It closed as a fire station on 4th April 1916 and the building was handed over to the police.  The building suffered major fire damage in November 2002 when being used as a fireworks store, during the national fire service strike.
Fred Lees joined the brigade on 7th July 1891 and was promoted to Station Officer on 20th December 1906.   He retired on 31st July 1917, by which time he must have moved from Goulden Street as it was closed by that date.


The image below was obviously taken on Chadderton Street in front of the doors that still remain.

The two image below were taken at the same place and show the horse ambulance.  Three doorways are visible in this photograph.

There are only two doorways on Chadderton Street today but you can see below that a third doorway has been bricked-up at some point in time.

The aerial photograph below, taken in 1953, shows the station when all of the buildings within the wall were still in place.  The red arrow points towards the police station.

Pevsner also says of the building that it has none of the Gothic features common in police stations of that era.  Instead, "something more akin to a stronghold was required in this notoriously lawless area."  Along what is now Bendix Street there are 14 doorways separated by rather clasical looking pillars. 

To see an in-depth history of the development of a professional police force and its police stations in Manchester, click on the button below.

Close Window