Dad's Army hotel
hit by fire
08 April 2007 20:06
An historic Norfolk hotel made famous by Dads' Army
but now threatened with demolition has been ravaged
In a battle worthy of the Home Guard team that starred
in the BBC comedy, residents of Thetford last year
launched a campaign to save the town's Anchor Hotel
from being destroyed.
But their fight to get the hotel listed status, preventing
its demolition, received a setback on Saturday evening
when much of the now-derelict building was hit by
Station manager Phil Berry, the firefighter in charge
of dealing with the blaze, said five fire crews were
needed to tackle the blaze, which had started on the
Firefighters were called at 7.39pm on Saturday and
remained on scene to the early hours of Sunday as
the blaze spread to the second floor and the roof.
First, officers had to check each room of the boarded-up
building to make certain that squatters, known to
use it in the past, were not on the premises.
“It is a large building and the fire affected
the front of it, and there was heavy smoke-logging
throughout,” said Mr Berry. “We were aware
that people from time to time seek refuge in the building
and could have been trapped, but there was no one
The buildings' owners have, legitimately, cut away
fire escapes to prevent people gaining entry into
the building - but that makes it far harder for people
to escape in a blaze.
Mr Berry said the main damage was done to the roof
at the rear of the building but that the ridge of
the central chimney had also been destroyed and there
was smoke staining to the boarded-up windows at the
front of the property.
An investigation into the cause of the fire has been
launched, but the building is known to have been hit
by arsonists in the past.
Last August firefighters were called to three small
fires in short succession, which saw rubbish set alight
on the ground floor, in the roof and a shed destroyed.
Each was deemed an arson attack.
Between 2001 and 2005 Norfolk County Council reported
that “bored youngsters” had been responsible
for 353 fires in Thetford.
The 18th century Anchor Hotel shot to fame after
being used in the first scene of the first episode
of Dads' Army in 1968 and is now the first stopping
point on tours of the town based on locations featured
in the comedy.
Last year new owners The Zog Group, a Hertford-based
property company, told the EDP the building was “an
eyesore” and that they wanted to replace it
with homes and a shopping complex on the Bridge Street
But the town's Thetford Society has since launched
an application to make the building Grade II listed,
preventing its demolition and preserving it for future