'A black sooty mess' - village hall arson devastation revealed

Mike Gibb, management committee treasurer, with the aftermath of a fire where a table and chairs wer

Mike Gibb, management committee treasurer, with the aftermath of a fire where a table and chairs were burned in the bar area of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - 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.

Mike Gibb, management committee treasurer, with the ashes of a cooker faults log book, set on fire i

Mike Gibb, management committee treasurer, with the ashes of a cooker faults log book, set on fire in the kitchen of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

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.

Burnt remains of table and chair legs and melted carpet after the fire in the bar area of the Hardin

Burnt remains of table and chair legs and melted carpet after the fire in the bar area of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"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."

Various posters set on fire around the interior of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRA

Various posters set on fire around the interior of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

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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.

Burnt remains of table and chair legs after the fire in the bar area of the Hardingham Memorial Hall

Burnt remains of table and chair legs after the fire in the bar area of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"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."

Hardingham Memorial Hall which has been damaged inside after an arson attack. Picture: DENISE BRADLE

Hardingham Memorial Hall which has been damaged inside after an arson attack. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

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.

Various posters set on fire around the interior of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRA

Various posters set on fire around the interior of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Various posters set on fire around the interior of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRA

Various posters set on fire around the interior of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Damaged fire retardant curtains after the fire in the bar area of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Pict

Damaged fire retardant curtains after the fire in the bar area of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Various posters set on fire around the interior of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRA

Various posters set on fire around the interior of the Hardingham Memorial Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021


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