Norwich library fire 20 years on – share your memories

08:48 29 July 2014

The children

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


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.

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 or call 01603 772453.


  • 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.

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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

    Report this comment


    Monday, July 28, 2014

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

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