Norwich Fire Station memories are shared by proud families

Continuing our series looking at life at Norwich Fire Station, Derek James hears the story of one of its many everyday heroes.

Let's open the doors and step inside – taking a look at life in Norwich Fire Station over the years as the service prepares to move out of its home in Bethel Street where it has been since the 1930s.

These pictures come from private collections, sent in by Evening News readers following my plea for your memories.

Families have always been – and still are – proud of having a firefighter in the family and these treasured photographs are a window on their working lives over the years.

We are telling the story of Bethel Street Fire Station in a series of articles in the run-up to the move out to the new station being built near County Hall.

When Bethel Street was opened back in 1934 firemen were also policemen, but the two services were starting to go their separate ways.

The corporation bought the site for �4,000, knocked down a collection of properties and built the station at a cost of �33,372.

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It turned out to be a wise move. Before long the dark clouds of war were looming and people were queuing up to join the fire brigade – little did they realise the horrors that lay ahead as the city was set on fire in bombing raids.

Derek Trollope sent me a collection of photographs which belonged to his father, Frank George Trollope, who was born in 1905 and died in 1981.

At first he worked in the police/fire service at West Pottergate, living at the Section House. Later he moved to the Bethel Street station, where he lived with his family above the 'shop' in Flat 2.

'After moving to Cromer to serve there and later to King's Lynn, both during the war, we moved back to Norwich after the war ended – this time to live in Flat 3,' said Derek.

Frank, who nearly died in the 1920s when a chimney fell on him while he was helping his father out, worked his way through the ranks of the fire service. 'During the war he would bring home unexploded bombs and dismantle them.

'This particularly unnerved my mother when he did this whilst an air raid was going on.

'He would explode the detonators, then section and paint them to train the fire service in dealing with them,' added Derek.

Frank retired in 1954 after completing 30 years as a fireman and later became a driving instructor.

Watch this space for more of your stories and photographs of life at Bethel Street over the years.