Staff devastated as Sheffield museum loses part of collection to vandalism

Staff and volunteers at a Sheffield museum have been left devastated after vandals attacked and destroyed part of its collection of vintage vehicles.

The damage was discovered by staff and volunteers from the National Emergency Services Museum (NESM) when they arrived to move 18 vehicles out of a storage site in Sheffield to a new facility at Magna in Rotherham.

The site, on the outskirts of the city, was closed by Sheffield City Council at short notice earlier this year and the museum given notice to move. However due to a lack of available space and funding the museum was forced to leave the vehicles in situ while it searched for alternative storage.

Vandals were able to access the site, stealing tyres, equipment and even engine parts, leaving some of the vehicles standing on bricks. Overall 15 of the 18 vehicles were damaged and three have had to be scrapped completely.

Matthew Wakefield, the museum’s CEO, said, “After a lot of worry about where we would be able to safely store these vehicles it was such a relief when Magna kindly stepped in to offer us a temporary new home for this part of our collection.

“Local companies and museum volunteers gave up their time to help transport the vehicles out of Sheffield last week on one of the wettest days of the year. So it was just heart-breaking to find that someone had been able to access the site and do such damage to items in our collection.”

NESM has around 160 vehicles in its care but due to space limitations can only display about 50 in the museum at any one time. It stores its operational fleet and restoration department in another property just outside Sheffield City Centre. However the agreement with landlords Sheffield City Council has come to an end and this part of the collection is now also urgently in need of a new home.

Matthew added, “It will cost us around £40,000 per year to keep our historic fleet under cover and on the road. We are an entirely self-funded museum and receive no money at all from the local authority or local government, so everything we spend we have to earn. We also rely so much on the support and goodwill from local businesses, organisations and individuals and, of course, our fantastic visitors.”

In the past few years NESM has grown from 7000 visitors per year to over 30,000 visitors annually and engages with thousands more at major events throughout the country.