Southwark museum fire: 500 artefacts saved but roof destroyed

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Media captionFirefighters battling the blaze

About 500 artefacts have been saved from a fire at a London museum but its roof has been destroyed.

Firefighters are still damping down at the Grade II listed Cuming Museum in Wansey Street, Walworth, south London.

At its peak on Monday, 20 firefighters and 20 fire engines tackled the blaze in the building, which also houses a library and one stop shop.

No injuries were reported, but Southwark Council said on-loan British Museum items may be affected.

It is still unclear as to what the cause of the blaze, which started about 12:30 GMT on Monday, is.

Thirty people were evacuated from inside the building, which houses Newington Library.

History of Southwark

The Cuming Museum, which was founded in 1906 with the Cuming family's private collection, has artefacts from all over the world, including objects from Roman London, Chinese ornaments and African tribal costumes.

The Wansey Street building was previously the Old Walworth Town Hall and it also houses a permanent exhibition on the history of Southwark.

Councillor Peter John, leader of the council, said: "No artefacts were removed from two of the galleries so we are just waiting to see, if and when we get back in, what might be in there.

"And there are also some items on loan from the British Museum and we don't know the status of them either."

Abhishek Agarwal, 30, a dentist, lives in a tower block near the Elephant and Castle roundabout, about 100m north-west of the fire.

He said: "There was a lot of smoke. The fire started in a very small area of the roof and within minutes I could see that it was spreading quickly to the rest of the roof.

"It is one of the oldest buildings in the area. It's a real shame as I think it will be very badly damaged."

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