Haven Bridge pub fire made leaseholder 'sick to his stomach'

A hydraulic platform tackles the Haven Bridge pub fire

Firefighters tackled the blaze from a hydraulic platform at the former Haven Bridge pub in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Archant

"I felt sick to my stomach."

Those are the words from the leaseholder of a Great Yarmouth pub after he had found out the building was gutted in a major blaze..

Martin Bennington, from Gorleston, has been the leaseholder of the former Haven Bridge pub for almost three years.

Mr Bennington, 49, said he received a phone call from a friend on Wednesday night telling him the building was on fire.

Mr Bennington has since taken over Haven Bridge in Great Yarmouth, where he says he is much happier

FLASHBACK: Martin Bennington when he recently taken over the lease of the Haven Bridge pub in 2020. - Credit: Archant

"At first, I thought they were joking," Mr Bennington said. "By the time I got there, it was just ablaze.

"There was not much I could do. I felt sick to my stomach."

Mr Bennington said at first he was terrified someone may have been in the building.

Until early March, the pub had been home to eight people including Mr Bennington. However, after an inspection by Norfolk Fire and Rescue, the building was served with a prohibition notice and the occupants were moved elsewhere.

Drone images of Haven Bridge pub fire

A drone shot of the charred remains of the roof of Haven Bridge pub following a fire on Wednesday night. - Credit: Big Sky Photo

Most Read

Mr Bennington said: "There should have been no one in the building (at the time of the fire). But we've had issues with people going in unlawfully."

He said that over the past week there had been a couple of incidents of people breaking into the property.

"The most important thing was nobody was hurt," he said.

Following the prohibition notice, Mr Bennington said he "had spent the past two weeks trying to make the place safe to open".

"The ground floor was nearly there. The hallways needed work and that's what we were going to do next."

A large fire has decimated the roof of the vacant Haven Bridge pub in Great Yarmouth. A cordon remains in place today. 

A large fire has decimated the roof of the vacant Haven Bridge pub in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Liz Coates/Archant

Mr Bennington said he had no plans to reopen the building as it had been used previously. He said there were plans to change the layout and possibly turn the downstairs into a bookshop, with the upstairs becoming residences.

"It is absolutely devastating," he said. "We have spent the best part of three years on that building.

"I wanted to put the building back on the map.

"I have no idea what the future holds.

"I don't know if it will be rebuilt, I don't know if it will be knocked down.

"I just don't know what we're going to do."

Mr Bennington said he had concerns about rumours he had read online about the property and was unhappy about the description of the premises being an unregistered home of multiple occupancy.