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Wanted: your memories of Norwich fire station

PUBLISHED: 12:29 20 January 2011

Bethel Street Fire Station pictured at the time of the Second World War

Bethel Street Fire Station pictured at the time of the Second World War

Archant

Later this year Bethel Street fire station is to close - and your help is needed to tell the historic building's story. Derek James reports.

This is the story of a building and the people who have worked in it... a building which has been at the heart of Norwich life since 1934.

But we need your help to tell it.

It has been a place where people have cried and occasionally laughed, as those in this landmark place of work have responded to our calls for their help.

And they don’t come any braver or more courageous than the firefighters at Bethel Street Fire Station.

It opened back in 1934 and it has served us well over the decades. Later this year it will close and a new purpose-built station will open near County Hall.

Now two men, Sonny Garrett and Richard Clements, are piecing together the story of Bethel Street and are reaching out to you, via the Evening News, for your help and support.

And their research could result in a book telling the story of the fire station and how it has looked after us and cared for us over the decades.

“We really need memories and photographs of events over the years – from both ex-fire personnel and members of the public,” said Richard and Sonny.

It was back in 1929 when the Norwich Watch Committee past a resolution that steps be taken for the provision of new premises for the police and fire brigade. The Chief Constable, the legendary John Henry Dain, said that in 35 years he had not come across a station so inadequate and as dangerous as the one in Pottergate.

The council bought the Bethel Street site for £4,000.

About 14 houses were demolished, including Jay’s Court and Blazeby’s Court. The land was riddled with wells and experts believed some could have been built to store arms and ammunition during the Civil War.

An architectural competition to come up with a design for the new station was won by Stanley Livock of London Street, Norwich, and the building cost £33,372. It was opened in November 1934 by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Fred Jex.

Over the next few weeks we shall be looking at the history of the fire service in Norwich, remembering the days of the city brigade, meeting some of the firefighters, and taking a look at some of the incidents and disasters they have dealt with over the years.

If you have any memories please email bethel.street@fire.norfolk.gov.uk or write to Sonny Garrett, Norwich Fire Station, Bethel Street, Norwich, NR2 1NW.

And if you have any photographs to share with us then please email them to me at derek.james@archant.co.uk or post them to me at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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