‘It had so much history’ – Devastation as ‘hazardous’ Fisons factory gutted by fire

Fire crews attend the scene of a huge fire at the Fisons factory site in Paper Mill Lane Picture: S

Fire crews attend the scene of a huge fire at the Fisons factory site in Paper Mill Lane Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Today’s fire at the former Fisons factory is the latest in a series of blazes at the vast site, and comes just months after developers were ordered to take action.

The old Fisons site went up in flames early on Monday morning Picture: SKY CAM EAST

The old Fisons site went up in flames early on Monday morning Picture: SKY CAM EAST - Credit: Archant

The most recent happened just weeks ago, when fire ripped through another building in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford.

Community leaders have been desperate to see the area protected, and earlier this year the developers of the former fertiliser factory were issued with a court order to make the site safer amid concerns over its security.

MORE: Huge inferno at former Fisons factory may be arson, say fire chiefs

Peterborough-based Paper Mill Lane Properties was taken to court by Mid Suffolk District Council in January, when magistrates ordered the company to “execute such works as may be necessary to obviate the danger” at the site and prevent further deterioration that could constitute a danger to the public.

Fire crews attend the scene of a huge fire at the Fisons factory site in Paper Mill Lane Picture: S

Fire crews attend the scene of a huge fire at the Fisons factory site in Paper Mill Lane Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

MORE: People evacuated from homes as major fire engulfs former Fisons site in Bramford

The company had until July 28 to complete work at the site to Mid Suffolk’s satisfaction.

John Field, Bramford representative for Suffolk County Council, and Kelvin Dakin, who led the Save the Northern Warehouse campaign, both said they were unaware what work had happened at the site since that order was made.


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Paper Mill Lane Properties has been contacted on multiple occasions by this newspaper but has not given comment to date.

Dramatic aerial photo showing the scale of the fire at the former Fisons site in Bramford Picture: S

Dramatic aerial photo showing the scale of the fire at the former Fisons site in Bramford Picture: SKY CAM EAST - Credit: Archant

Previous fires at former Fisons factory

• April 9, 2019 – Six engines tackle blaze

• April 28, 2018 – ‘Challenging’ fire at Suffolk landmark

• April 7, 2018 – Security concerns raised after Fisons fire

New footage has shown the former Fisons factory site in Paper Mill Lane weeks before the fire took h

New footage has shown the former Fisons factory site in Paper Mill Lane weeks before the fire took hold Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

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‘It was really hazardous’

Mr Field said the building had spent “many years in this state”, and local people had been calling for action for some time.

Mr Dakin, who led the Save the Northern Warehouse campaign in an effort to secure a positive future for the site, said of today’s blaze: “It was one hell of a shock. It has always been in the back of my mind that this could happen. Whatever is left is going to have to be demolished.

“The whole Fisons thing started off in Ipswich and Bramford and formed a nationally famous and internationally famous company.

The former Fisons factory has been left gutted by the blaze Picture: JAMES CASTON

The former Fisons factory has been left gutted by the blaze Picture: JAMES CASTON - Credit: JAMES CASTON

“We have to feel for the residents. It was really quite a grand structure.”

‘People will feel a sense of loss’

Having been listed as one of the top 10 endangered buildings by the Victorian Society in 2017, concerns had been raised about the site’s security for some time.

James Caston, newly-elected Mid Suffolk district councillor for the Bramford Ward, said the community had lost an “individual, wonderful building” with a wealth of history.

The former Fisons site in Paper Mill Lane between Claydon and Bramford Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

The former Fisons site in Paper Mill Lane between Claydon and Bramford Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN - Credit: OLIVER SULLIVAN

“I have been canvassing and talking to people in the village and it is just so important to them to get something done with that site,” he said.

“They wanted the development to be put in. The general feeling was why is that just sitting there – it’s falling down.

“One of the things I wanted to do when I got in was find out why we have got potentially 90 homes there and nothing has been done about it.

“It is such a shame. It couldn’t be worse timing. All that history – it could have been something really nice.”

The fire engulfing the Fisons site early on May 6 Picture: AILSA REID

The fire engulfing the Fisons site early on May 6 Picture: AILSA REID - Credit: Archant

After visiting the scene of the blaze this morning, he said he felt heartbroken.

“Architecturally it was an amazing building,” Mr Caston said.

“It is completely lost – it’s really sad.

“It was so important to protect it. I think people will just feel a sense of loss for a bit of history in Bramford. They’ll feel that they have really lost something of importance. It is a really sad end to it.

Fire crews attend the scene of a huge fire at the Fisons factory site in Paper Mill Lane Picture: S

Fire crews attend the scene of a huge fire at the Fisons factory site in Paper Mill Lane Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“I had seen the drone footage and the bits that were on Twitter earlier on, so I was expecting something pretty terrible, but to actually get down there and see the skeleton and hear bits collapsing – it was just really heartbreaking.

“It was more than just as old building. It was an individual, wonderful building and it had so much history. It was unique.”

He added it was a “hard site to secure” and a proper investigation should take place to establish the cause of the blaze.

“I think we have got to look at what has happened here,” he said.

Empty shell of the former Fisons factory building in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford Picture: RYAN BRETT

Empty shell of the former Fisons factory building in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford Picture: RYAN BRETT - Credit: RYAN BRETT

“It is just such a hard site to secure and I don’t think it was secured very well.”

In a recent poll by this newspaper, 37% of the 111 respondents said they still wanted the site to be used for housing – with a further 22% believing that the site could be used to house community facilities.

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