Norwich library fire 20 years on – share your memories

The children's section of the Norwich Library destroyed by the fire. Date: Aug 1994. Photo by Bill Smith. The children's section of the Norwich Library destroyed by the fire. Date: Aug 1994. Photo by Bill Smith.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
8:48 AM

It was the day when priceless pieces of Norfolk’s past went up in flames – and 20 years on we want to hear your memories of the historic day.

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Demolition goes ahead on the top of the library after the fire. Date: March 1997. Picture by J Nicholls.Demolition goes ahead on the top of the library after the fire. Date: March 1997. Picture by J Nicholls.

On August 1, 1994 at 7.20am Norwich’s central library began what ended up being the worst British library fire in living memory.

At the height of the £4m blaze, smoke could be seen 20 miles away with temperatures inside reaching 1,000 degrees centigrade.

A precious collection of books, manuscripts and archive material were destroyed by the blaze caused by an electrical fault.

But Norwich’s 800-year-old charter was saved, stored in a fire-proof basement.

The fire at Norwich central library - what were your memories of the day?The fire at Norwich central library - what were your memories of the day?

Around 15 fire engines and 150 firefighters were at the scene – and in the aftermath the Norwich community rallied round.

Food companies donated refrigerated lorries to freeze-dry waterlogged manuscripts and thousands of people donated old books and pictures about Norfolk to replace the lost records.

Now the £63.5m Forum stands proudly in its place.

• We want to hear your memories of the fire for an anniversary piece. Were you in Norwich on the frightful day? Do you know someone who was involved in the recovery?

• Share you stories and help us mark the 20th anniversary. Email rosa.mcmahon@archant.co.uk or call 01603 772453.

3 comments

  • That's me in the picture pointing the hose at the burning library. We responded to the fire from my then fire station at Hethersett., whilst working for Norfolk Fire Service.

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    Gerry DeFalco

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • I expect that it would have probably been demolished by now anyway, in the interests of "development". It was a proper library, unlike the so-called library we have now.

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    marty r

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

  • I liked the fountain outside. it was very tranquil and pretty.

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    Mooseyt4

    Monday, July 28, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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