Here is a selection of George Swain’s camera melting exploits. Originally photographed in Black and White. I colourised these, based on looking at modern colour photos of fires and then painting them in, very simply to be honest. They depict the nights Norwich burned during the blitz, mainly from 1942 when the air raids were at their peak.
All colorised images copyright Nick Stone. Original images in monochrome are from my private collection of Swain images, most of which can also be found at Picture Norfolk. Special thanks to them for their support with a lot of my blitz work.

Blitz colour - Norwich © Nick Stone 1 St Ben

St Benedicts – 27th to 29th April 1942

Originally I thought George Swain shot this from somewhere near the top of Westwick Street, but I’m more inclined to think it might be Fishers Lane in the early hours, St Benedicts Street Westwick Street and the Dereham Road area burn, you can even see fires off in the distance silhouetting another church tower; I thought this could have been the baptist chapel on Dereham Road, but I’m more inclined to think it’s a distant cathedral. Which gives it rather more power.

All of this framed by St Laurence Church tower and the Bullards brewery chimney in the foreground.

A swarm of Luftwaffe bombers cracked open the roofs of the building across a large section of the Northern and Western side of Norwich and poured sticks of incendiaries into the woodwork setting fires that burned in some cases for several days.

Original photo: George Swain, Courtesy: Picture Norfolk.

Blitz colour - Norwich © Nick Stone 2 winc

Westwick Street, Wincarnis in flames – 27th April 1942

George Swain, He didn’t just go out and shoot the stuff the next day, he shot stuff during the raids. This one is I think the Wincarnis building (roughly where Toy’s R us’ car park is now. The area around Westwick street almost ceased to exist so intense was the bombing and resulting conflagration so hot it started to melt his camera.

Original photo: George Swain, Courtesy: Picture Norfolk.

Blitz colour - Norwich © Nick Stone 3 winc

Wincarnis works – 27th/28th April 1942

George Swain gets even closer to the factory on Westwick Street. This would probably have been some time between 1am and sun up on the morning of the 28th April 1942.

Original Photo: George Swain. Courtesy: Picture Norfolk.

Blitz colour - Norwich © Nick Stone 4 DM

Duff Morgan Fire 27th/28th April 1942

Another Swain, he had a busy and dangerous night. This is Duff Morgan, at the time it was opposite St John’s the Roman Catholic Cathedral and was in fact rebuilt on the spot and remained there until maybe 15 years ago before being consumed by flats. You have to admire the man, a professional photographer by trade, he went out off his own back and shot all of these photos of the raids, As documentation of those days and nights, we are forever in his debt.

Blitz colour - Norwich © Nick Stone 5 Bonds

Bonds – 27th June 1942

Incendiaries on Ber Street, Norwich. Rapidly turning most of Messrs Bonds and Sons’ stock into charcoal.

Colourised.

Original Photo: George Swain. Courtesy: Picture Norfolk.

Blitz colour - Norwich © Nick Stone 6 SS copy

St Stephens

Another fire this time St Stephens, the photo info states it’s the 27th/28th, I’m more inclined to think this is the second raid on the 29th/30th which is when the city centre got more messed up by incendiaries and fire spreading up from Curls (Debenhams) and Buntings(M&S). That was the night that Caley’s chocolate factory burnt down (now that monstrous Chapelfield thing).

Recoloured, Night photo. Original photo: George Swain, Courtesy: Picture Norfolk.

Blitz colour - Norwich © Nick Stone 7 BS copy

Timberhill – 27th June 1942

Scroll forward a few months. The Luftwaffe have nearly done with Norwich. This is a much later raid, this time believed to be an oil bomb, basically a fuse, a charge and a barrel of oil dropped from a plane. Nasty fires. I think, without checking, that this was after the raids that burnt out Bonds at the top of Timberhill on all saints green.

Original Photo Swain, Photo courtesy Picture Norfolk.