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‘Tragic loss’ as city park fire means pavilion cannot be saved

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:57 31 January 2020

The fire in the tennis pavilion at Heigham Park in November last year. Picture: Ruth Lawes

The fire in the tennis pavilion at Heigham Park in November last year. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Archant 2019

An almost 100-year-old pavilion, severely damaged in a fire in a city park, is structurally unsound and cannot be saved, council bosses have revealed.

The burnt out thatched tennis pavillion at Heigham Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe burnt out thatched tennis pavillion at Heigham Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Fire ripped through the tennis pavilion at Heigham Park in November last year.

About 25 firefighters tackled the fire at the Grade II-listed park and were forced to strip the thatched roof in order to contain the fire.

There were hopes that the damage was restricted to the roof of the building.

But Norwich City Council has confirmed that investigations have found it is structurally unsound.

How the pavilion looked before the fire. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHow the pavilion looked before the fire. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The council says it will have to be taken apart and rebuilt, although they hope to use some of the original materials.

The "tragic" loss of the pavilion, in a park which was laid out in the 1920s and 1930s by the city's parks superintendent Captain Arnold Edward Sandys-Winsch in the 1920s and 1930s, was revealed at a city council meeting this week.

Matthew Packer, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "The matter is being dealt with by the police and officers are supporting them in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

"The pavilion has been severely damaged by the fire and investigations have found that it is structurally unsound and sadly will have to be deconstructed and rebuilt.

Matthew Packer, Labour Norwich city councillor. Pic: Labour Party.Matthew Packer, Labour Norwich city councillor. Pic: Labour Party.

"Any materials suitable for including in the rebuild will be retained however, due to the extent of the damage, what can be reused is limited.

"The pavilion will be surveyed and drawings made before this happens to inform the rebuild work. The possibility of reducing the risk of fire to the thatch will be explored, or an alternative appropriate roofing material used.

"The loss of the pavilion is a tragic one to one of the city's gems and I look forward to it being restored to its former glory as soon as possible."

And Mr Packer said the council would continue to promote the city's parks, in the hope busy parks reduce the chance of vandalism and damage.

He said: "It is extremely sad that this has occurred and the council needs to be as vigilant as it can be, working closely with the police, as well as friends of groups and park users, to prevent vandalism and damage from occurring in all of our parks so they are available to be enjoyed by the residents of our city."


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