Former pubs, schools and leisure centres among arson-hit sites

Fire has ripped through the old Pinebanks building in Thorpe St Andrew Norwich during the early hour

Fire has ripped through the old Pinebanks building in Thorpe St Andrew Norwich during the early hours of Thursday 17th July 2014. Fire appliances from all over Norfolk attended but had problems getting water onto the fire. - Credit: citizenside.com

A former pub, a disused school and a closed holiday park are among the derelict Norfolk buildings to fall victim to arson attacks in recent years.

In the past six years, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has been called to tackle blazes in empty buildings dozens of times. 

While vacant buildings often do very little other than occupy space, they can also become more than just blots on the horizon - attracting anti-social behaviour.

Norfolk Fire Service attending a fire at The Griffin Pub in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Danielle Bood

Norfolk Fire Service attending a fire at The Griffin Pub in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

And since 2015, firefighters have been called 85 times to deal with deliberately set blazes at derelict buildings - the equivalent of once a month, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

One of the most recent cases was in January, when the Griffin pub on Yarmouth Road went up in flames.

The building had been vacant for more than a year and a planning application had recently been lodged to demolish it.

Other buildings to have been hit include the former Langley Preparatory School site in Thorpe St Andrew, which suffered arson attacks in June 2018 and November 2020.

Shortly after 3pm on Saturday 21st November, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service was called to a blaze a

Shortly after 3pm on Saturday 21st November, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service was called to a blaze at the former Langley Preparatory School site in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Housing plans were recently unveiled for the site as part of a scheme spread across four sites in the town - including the former Pinebanks sports centre, which was itself gutted by a blaze in 2014.


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The results of the request provided the street names of other derelict buildings which had been subject to deliberate fires.

These include Beach Road in Hemsby, where the former Pontins holiday park was and Railway Road in Downham Market, which both featured several times.

A fire at the old Pontins site in Hemsby last year. Picture Liasa Deller

A fire at the old Pontins site in Hemsby last year. Picture Liasa Deller - Credit: Archant

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And another high profile blaze was the former Little Plumstead Hospital, which was destroyed by arson in August 2016. The fire-hit site was replaced with a large housing development.

Fire at Little Plumstead Hospital. Date: 14 Aug 2016. Picture: Mike Page

Fire at Little Plumstead Hospital. Date: 14 Aug 2016. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

Duncan Ashworth, a group manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "When we are called to fires at derelict buildings they can pose different challenges - in particular the uncertainty of whether somebody is inside.

"If a building is left unwatched for a long time it can become prone to antisocial types of activity.

"Deliberate fires are a source of frustration, but whatever the cause is our job is to deal with them. I would say hoax calls are a bigger frustration though."

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