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How August 1 is a bad day in the history of Norwich

PUBLISHED: 12:19 01 August 2012

An aerial view showing the smoke from the fire at Garlands
department store in 1971.  The fire started in the kitchen of the store and
as Dipples was situated directly behind the store the firemen actually stood
on Dipples’ roof to douse out the flames (as seen in the picture)

An aerial view showing the smoke from the fire at Garlands department store in 1971. The fire started in the kitchen of the store and as Dipples was situated directly behind the store the firemen actually stood on Dipples' roof to douse out the flames (as seen in the picture)

Archant

Events on August 1 over the last century or more that changed the look of 21st century Norwich.

August 1 is a bad day in the history of Norwich. The day the city burned and we lost not one, but two libraries, along with a much-loved department store.

On this day in 1898:

Fire destroyed the subscription library on Guildhall Hill.

The blaze had started at Hurn’s ropemaking business and spread to the library. Sixty thousand volumes, many rare and valuable, were lost including the important Norton collection of foreign dictionaries.

Chamberlins – the big, upmarket department store on Guildhall Hill – was also damaged in the blaze.

If the wind had been blowing in a different direction much of Dove Street and Lower Goat Lane could have gone.

It was said later that if the fire brigade – the Carrow and the Anchor brigades also helped – had had longer ladders, they would have more chance of saving the building and many of the books.

The Evening News at the time described the library blaze as “an irreparable loss.”

The library reopened a year later at a cost of £1.719.

On this day in 1970:

Garland’s much-loved department store on London Street, part of city life for so long, burned down.

The fire started in the kitchens and quickly spread throughout the building. Hundreds of shoppers gathered to watch as firemen battled to save the building and stop the fire from spreading to neighbouring properties.

A human chain formed to save thousands of shoes of shoes from Buckingham’s shop.

It took almost 70 firemen three hours to get the blaze under control.

On this day in 1994:

The blaze started at about 7.30am and quickly spread through the building where The Forum now stands.

It turned out to be the worst library fire since the Second World War and destroyed a priceless collection of books, manuscripts and archive material.

Tens of thousands of lending reference and local history books were lost as the fire took hold. Smoke could be seen six miles away.

Around 15 fire engines and 150 firefighters were at the scene. It was a terrible disaster which knocked the city for six.

The people responded by helping to stock a new library. A temporary library was set up on Ber Street and the people of Norwich and Norfolk responded to appeals for books.

Experts also worked on repairing damaged books and documents.

Today The Forum is at the heart of Norwich life.

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