Following on from the last post with featured a very sad image of the burnt out remains of the old Riverside Hotel at Brundall Gardens, John Chesney’s collection also contains some more images of fires within Broadland during the 1990s.
The first shows the Bridge Hotel at Potter Heigham which seems to be one of the most lamented losses on the system with so many people having such fond memories of the place. The hotel stood beside the medieval road bridge for many years – there are several views of it within the Potter Heigham postcards section on the main Broadland Memories website and the family who featured in my 1930s home movies were filmed having afternoon tea there before picking up their holiday hire boat from Herbert Woods. Owned by the Bullard’s brewery, the hotel was originally called the Waterman’s Arms. In the mid 1960s the proprietor was Frank Eaton and an advert in a local tourist guide of that era mentioned that a fine range of Bullard’s “celebrated ales” could be delivered to bungalows or boats! The hotel then became a Watney’s establishment and, in the 1970s, people remember dancing the night away to Jonathon Crowe’s disco. By 1990 it was under the ownership of the Chef & Brewer Group when, in September of that year, a fire believed to have been caused by an electrical fault ripped through the building, leaving little more than the chimney’s standing. Once again, John Chesney captured the aftermath of that devastating fire and his photograph above shows what remained of the hotel, shored up by scaffolding. Deemed unsafe, it was soon demolished and, sadly, was never rebuilt. The land on which the hotel stood is now used as a car park.
Also amongst John’s photographs was the one on the left which shows the fire damaged Roy’s of Wroxham department store at Hoveton in 1995. Joyce recalls that the fire, which began in the early hours of the morning on the 6th May, was caused by a spotlight setting fire to a window display which had been set up to celebrate Roy’s 100th anniversary – the first store having been opened at Coltishall in 1895. Interestingly, the Norfolk Fire Service website mentions that this was not the first fire to have occurred at Roy’s of Wroxham and tells of the original store burning down in August 1916. At this time there was no fire appliance in the village and, because the parish council had not paid any contributions to the Norwich fire brigade, they refused to turn out and the building was lost.