Mosaics rescued from Norwich library blaze back on show - after being discovered covered in soot at County Hall

A collection of mosaics that were once in the old Norwich library are now on display in the Millenni

A collection of mosaics that were once in the old Norwich library are now on display in the Millennium library. Anne Cormie with one of the mosaices that she discoved in the archives. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A set of mosaics rescued from the fire which destroyed Norwich Central Library have been restored to their former glory - after being discovered covered in soot at County Hall.

The mosaics where they used to be in the entrance to the old library.
Picture: Nick Butcher

The mosaics where they used to be in the entrance to the old library. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

And the artist who created them in the 1950s today made an emotional return to Norwich to see her designs back on display in the library built on the site of the one which burned down.

The five pieces, which chart the development of the written word, were saved by firefighters after the original library was engulfed in flames in 1994.

Laurel Cooper, 88, travelled from her home in Kent to see the mosaics newly restored and on show in the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library's Norfolk Heritage Centre.

Great Yarmouth-born Mrs Cooper said she had visited the library after the fire and knew they had been saved, but said: 'I heard they had gone into storage and i didn't hear evermore until the spring of this year. I didn't think I'd ever see them again.

A collection of mosaics that were once in the old Norwich library are now on display in the Millenni

A collection of mosaics that were once in the old Norwich library are now on display in the Millennium library. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher


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'I was glad they were saved, but so upset by all the books and documents which were lost in the fire.'

She said it was a 'bolt out of the blue' when she was contacted by the council and told they planned to exhibit them.

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She said: 'It feels wonderful. I'm so glad people will be able to see them again.'

In a remarkable twist of fate, the mosaics were discovered in County Hall by the daughter of the architect who built the original library.

Devastation at Norwich Central Library following the 1994 fire. Pic: Archant Library.

Devastation at Norwich Central Library following the 1994 fire. Pic: Archant Library.

Anne Cormie, whose father Jim Vanston was the library's architect, was working at the council about 15 years ago when she spotted objects wrapped in bubble wrap on top of a filing cabinet.

She said: 'I was nosy, so I looked under the wrap and, once I rubbed away what was on them I could see what they were and realised they were from the library.

'I do wonder what would have happened to them if someone else who didn't realise they had been part of the library had found them.'

Years passed, but determined Mrs Cormie kept writing to the council to ask what had happened.

The mosaics were on show when the Queen Mother opened Norwich Central Library on January 19, 1963. P

The mosaics were on show when the Queen Mother opened Norwich Central Library on January 19, 1963. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

They had gone missing again, but were rediscovered earlier this year and cleaned up.

They are now on display in the Norfolk Heritage Centre on the library's second floor - where the public are welcome to view them.

Norwich Library Fire in August 1994. Picture: EN LIBRARY / J NICHOLLS

Norwich Library Fire in August 1994. Picture: EN LIBRARY / J NICHOLLS - Credit: Archant

Laurel Cooper with her mosaic in Norwich Central Library. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Laurel Cooper with her mosaic in Norwich Central Library. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Laurel Cooper, the artist who designed and made the mosaics. Pic: Mustard TV.

Laurel Cooper, the artist who designed and made the mosaics. Pic: Mustard TV. - Credit: Mustard TV

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