Campus curiosities. 06 Britain's longest fireman's pole, Bournemouth

May 27, 2005

It sounds like a dream accessory for a student union building. At more than 14m in length, the Victorian fireman's pole that cuts through all four storeys of Bournemouth University's Old Firestation is reputedly the longest in the UK.

But sadly the brass-cased steel pole can no longer be used to descend from top to ground floor in a matter of seconds - each level fits snuggly against the listed structure - a requirement of fire regulations, ironically.

Even worse, no one from the student union got the chance to slide down it before the conversion of the attractive stone-and-red-brick building in Holdenhurst Road got under way some ten years ago.

Nevertheless, the pole can be toasted in the ground-floor bar and danced around on the first floor, where bands and DJs entertain students.

From there, the pole travels up the back of a cloakroom on the second floor and past a toilet in the university's graphic design unit on the third floor.

The length of the fire pole is unusual as most were staggered to stop firefighters reaching too high a speed as they approached the bottom. This did not stop one Bournemouth crew member from descending the pole upside down carrying a tray of coffees.

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