Photo Gallery and Video update: Crews leave the scene of fire which destroyed oldest part of Thorpe St Andrew’s Pinebanks Social Club

The fire at Pinebanks Thorpe St Andrew Norwich. Photo by iwitness24 member Richard Polley. The fire at Pinebanks Thorpe St Andrew Norwich. Photo by iwitness24 member Richard Polley.

Thursday, July 17, 2014
10:08 PM

Fire crews have now left the scene of today’s earlier blaze at the empty Pinebanks sports and social club in Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, and will return in the morning.

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The blaze in the early hours destroyed most of the original part of the Victorian villa and at its height 66 firefighters battled to keep it from spreading to other parts of the building.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service sent crews from across Norfolk to the fire in Yarmouth Road.

The alarm was first raised at 1.26am and at the height of the fire the flames could be seen from as far away as Whitlingham.

It took until about 4.30am to get the fire under control with about 66 firefighters working to extinguish the blaze.

Fire fighters at Pinebanks tackling the blaze which broke out in the early hours. Photo: Bill SmithFire fighters at Pinebanks tackling the blaze which broke out in the early hours. Photo: Bill Smith

• Video: Scenes of the aftermath

• Video: Firefighter Greg Preston on the fire

The fire at Pinebanks Thorpe St Andrew Norwich. Photo by iwitness24 member Richard Polley.The fire at Pinebanks Thorpe St Andrew Norwich. Photo by iwitness24 member Richard Polley.

To add to the drama, firefighters took part in industrial action this morning between 6am and 8am. But a fire spokesman said it had “little impact”.

“Firefighters did leave to take part in industrial action but this coincided with the time that relief crews would have been called anyway,” she said. “The fact that the fire broke out in the early hours also meant that there was plenty of time to plan for this.”

Currently firefighters are still on the scene and are waiting for the area to be made safe before they can go in and check that there are no further hotspots. Fire investigation work will then begin.

A fire spokesman added that when they arrived at the scene the fire was “very well developed”. The flames were already coming through the roof and fire crews tried to concentrate on preventing the fire from spreading.

Incident commander Greg Preston said: “When we arrived we found a well-developed fire in the old part of the building, with flames going through the roof and spreading quickly because of the timber construction.

“Our initial actions were to prevent the fire spreading to the other parts of the building and to make sure there was nobody in the building, because it’s not unusual to get rough sleepers in empty buildings.”

Five fire crews were called to the scene as well as the service’s aerial platform, a water carrier and control unit.

Mr Preston said: “We had 66 firefighters and officers on scene at the height of the blaze. Some police officers saw the flames from Whitlingham.”

He added: “The old part of the building is almost completely destroyed by the fire. There’s some minor damage to the newer parts but we managed to stop the spread and have saved approximately 70pc of the building.

“It’s too early for our investigators to go in but when we get to a point where the building is safe to do so we will investigate further.”

Relief crews are still on the scene, damping down, and are expected to be there all day and possibly overnight too.

Demolition workers were also on site to advise firefighters, as the remaining unsupported chimneys and tower have become extremely dangerous.

The original Pinebanks house was built around 1880 and extended in 1907.

It became the Norwich Union (now Aviva) Sports and Social Club, but closed in 2008.

More than 230 homes are to be built on the site after a planning application was approved last year.

Nearby residents had opposed the plans, but Broadland District Council’s planning committee voted unanimously in favour of 231 homes at Pinebanks and 71 homes at the nearby Griffin Lane site, which are both owned by the same property developer, Ocubis.

In November residents spoke of their fears after hordes of people trying to enter an illegal rave at Pinebanks threatened to overwhelm police before hurling bottles and vandalising police cars.

19 comments

  • New Advert. Norwich Union we Never make A Fire out of a Crisis !!!!!

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    che bramley

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

  • How to Bypass Planning Laws, set fire to where you know as a Developer you can make an absolute fortune. I hope the Insurance Company is looking into this seriously. Seems a bit of a coincidence if you ask me. Oh hang on weren't the owners of the Sports Club an Insurance Company ? Just Saying !!!!!

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    che bramley

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

  • I left many years ago after working for NU for 5 years but have many happy memories of the activities and sports which took place there I played Hocket and Tennis and took advantage of the TV room (we didn't have TV in those days at home)Pool table and table tennis. So sad to see such a lovely house go up in flames .Looks like sabotage to me. Happens in Oz as well sadly....

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    Copperknob

    Saturday, July 19, 2014

  • Terrible news. A truly wonderful old building lost forever. Shame that it was converted into a sports club in the first place. It should have been left alone and acknowledged for it's architectural significance rather than being allowed to be spoiled by all the ghastly additions made in the 1970's1980's. A very sad day for Thorpe St. Andrew

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    SG

    Friday, July 18, 2014

  • One wonders what will be found if there's an investigation. Maybe the building will be "too dangerous" to investigate and will be pulled down anyway.

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    marty r

    Friday, July 18, 2014

  • The old part of the Pinebanks building was the problem part in the housing negotiations and agreement on how to take the site forwards was still not reached after a number of months... make of that what you will!

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    Adams is God

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • Very sad news, now they dont have to keep the building as part of the development plan for that site.....mmmmm more houses more money, just saying

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    Martin P

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • Sorry to see such a sad end for an impressive building. Christmas eve 1983 at the Norwich Union Pinebanks disco, the best Christmas eve ever, bar none.

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    Bruce87

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • My initial comment was removed by Archant but it was the same as the one made by Panic so happy to repeat that. Seen this sort of thing many times before

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    JohnnyH

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • Well this certainly brings a new meaning to Burning off the Calories :p

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    che bramley

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • marty r

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • How very convenient. I bet this will just disappear.

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    Panic

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • of course it is... whole thing looks like an insurance job

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    Joe Wilson-Smith

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • Suspicious ! as reported by Mustard TV

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    Albert Cooper

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • ….. Quite sad to see this building lost!........What a wonderful opportunity to replace it with a sky line changer!....Something like The Shard or The Post Office Tower..with a Norwich Accent of course!....Much better than another jumble of Matchbox houses!.....

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    Stew Pydsodd

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • How very sad. I hope it's insured.

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    Anglianjacky

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • Probably some bored kids who thought it would be fun to set fire to the place. Used to use that loads when i worked for Norwich Union Aviva. Sad end to a fine building.

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    nobbly1

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • I could see it from near the cock pub in Lakenham! I was looking on the internet for ages to find out what it was!

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    Chris Kiddell

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • A very sad end to a fine building,where as a musician in several bands I did many gigs!

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    Harry Rabinowitz

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

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