Museums United Kingdom

Fire engulfs museum in south London

Cuming Museum's ethnography and local history collection at risk

The home of the Cuming Museum on fire

Fire threatens the Cuming Museum in Walworth, south London, home to artefacts from all around the world, including objects from Roman London, Chinese ornaments and African tribal costumes. Founded in 1906, it contains the Cuming family's private collection as well as the Lovett collection of London superstitions, archaeology and social history telling the story of the development of Southwark. The fire broke out at around noon today (25 March). Around 120 firefighters and 20 fire engines are tackling the blaze in the Victorian-era town hall building, which is also home to a local library.

This is not the first disaster to befall the small museum. It received a direct hit from an incendiary bomb in 1941 during the Second World War.

Update: hundreds of objects are reported to have been saved from the museum's galleries. How many were destroyed or suffered water damage is unknown as the building was still too dangerous to enter two days after the fire.

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2 Jul 13
23:27 CET


The fire in this museum is devastating for the building as well as the artwork. Thankfully the people were relatively well protected. There is often a lot that can be done to prevent fires and mitigate its impact including providing detection and alarm systems, suppression systems, compartmenting the spaces and floors, coordination with the local fire brigades, limiting unnecessary storage and development of appropriate fire prevention and evacuation plans (see for additional information.) Hopefully these can be incorporated into the renovation work that will need to be undertaken in going forward. Regards, Chris

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