A GROUP of artists in York have taken over the city centre's former fire station, and plan to give it a "fitting artistic farewell" before the bulldozers move in.

The station on Clifford Street has lain empty since the fire service moved into its new purpose built centre on Kent Street, and although developers have plans to turn the old site into a new restaurant, flats and houses, the work is yet to start.

In the meantime, new owners at The Clifford St Venture - which is made up of developers The Helmsley Group and London Ebor Development - has let the Blank Canvas project take over the building as a temporary studio.

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Blank Canvas uses empty properties as short term space for creative and educational projects, but York coordinator Phil Dodsworth said the fire station is a very different opportunity to the empty shops and offices it usually used - especially as many fixtures and fittings like hoses and the original fireman's pole are still in place.

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He added: "A space like this really brings out the imagination and the sense of adventure in all of us."

Proposals are flooding in from artists who want to use the fire station, he added, and many are inspired by the building and its history - including a lighting installation that will pay tribute to the blue light services the fire station was once home to.

Phil added: "It's a great space, and the fact that it's going to be demolished means this is a bit of a last hurrah for the building. What's become apparent to me through talking to people is we want to document the building through art, and this will be available to people in the future, for generations to come."

The fire station has already hosted sessions for photographers keen to document the building and its fixtures and fittings, and it was the backdrop for a music video filmed at the weekend.

In the coming weeks it will host exhibitions and installations, art lessons, and music events, and will act as a studio for artists to create new work.

More information is at Blank Canvas York's Facebook page, or Phil can be contacted on phil.skippko@gmail.com