Trimley: Fire-damaged village hall may have to be demolished

Fire at Trimley Memorial Hall

Fire at Trimley Memorial Hall - Credit: Archant

Villagers are today waiting to see whether a much-loved and well used hall that was the “heart of the community” can be rebuilt after fire devastated the building.

Fire at Trimley Memorial Hall

Fire at Trimley Memorial Hall - Credit: Archant

Arsonists are believed to be behind the blaze at the Memorial Hall in Trimley St Martin and which has left the community shellshocked.

Fire at Trimley Memorial Hall

Fire at Trimley Memorial Hall - Credit: Archant

Police are linking it with a fire 24 hours earlier when an historic barn at the rear of ther Three Mariners pub in neighbouring Trimley St Mary was set on fire, causing a car in the outbuilding to explode.

Tony Rodwell, treasurer of the hall management committee and treasurer of the Trimley Saints Players theatre group based at the building, said: “It is devastating – absolutely awful.

“This building is at the heart of our community. It is so well used by so many different groups. I feel sorry for our hirers because this was their home. To see it like this is pretty depressing.

“The fire service said there was an enormous amount of heat in here.

“I am not sure what is going to happen and we need to have some experts look at this, but the roof has gone and the wiring, and the brickwork has been exposed to such heat, they might condemn it.

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“We could be looking at a complete rebuild job – starting from scratch. It’s a terrible loss.”

Mr Rodwell said a lot of work had been done in recent years to modernise the hall, including a new kitchen and heating system, and air conditioning units which had not even been used yet. Painters had been in this week redecorating the interior.

The first task now was to inform all the groups which use the building.

John Sills, vice chairman of Trimley St Martin Parish Council, trustees of the hall, said the building would be boarded up and made secure as quickly as possible. He reckoned about 60% of the roof had been lost.

He said: “It is absolutely heartbreaking.

“The building is a scene of devastation. We don’t know what will happen yet and whether it can be rebuilt, and we have to first wait and see what the loss adjustors say.”

Mr Sills said Trimley (Cranfield) Bowls Club, whose premises are at the rear of the hall, and Trimley Sports and Social Club next door had already both kindly offered to provide alternative meeting places for many of the hall’s smaller groups until the hall is repaired or rebuilt.