'A black sooty mess' - village hall arson devastation revealed
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A devastating arson attack on a village hall has left it needing complete redecoration - and forced community groups to find a new home.
The attack, which happened between last Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, saw vandals break into the hall and start several fires inside.
Mike Gibb, treasurer of Hardingham Memorial Hall management committee, said fires were still burning when the caretaker arrived at around 10:30am on Sunday.
He said damage from the blaze meant groups which used the hall would not be able to for up to four months. However the village church is offering to take on the hall's bookings.
Mr Gibb said: "It's completely filthy. There was one bigger fire where they burnt a chair in the corner of our bar area and half the carpet has melted away.
"Fortunately the carpet melted rather than going up in flames.
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"If it had gone into the main hall, the floor is wooden and is suspended, so the whole floor would have gone up.
"There were lots of little fires on two or three noticeboards, where they've lit the paper on the noticeboards."
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As the incident happened during the night, at the hall on High Common, the committee is still unsure when the incident happened.
Mr Gibb added: "It had obviously smouldered for a long time, because Hardingham village hall is basically two rooms and they are completely covered in black sooty mess.
"The whole place will need cleaning and a complete redecoration from top to bottom.
"We don't know how long it will take but at least two months depending on how long it takes to sort everything out with the insurance people and everything else.
"We've told groups that if they want to meet they can do it in Hardingham church, which has been made available."
Anyone who may have seen the incident or has information should contact PC Jake Metcalf at Dereham Police Station on 101 quoting crime reference 36/49555/21.