January 31 2015 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
It is one Norfolk community that has been bucking the economic downturn - even before the Chancellor’s budget announcements to boost the construction industry.
Popular Great Yarmouth attraction Merrivale Model Village has been developing at quite a pace over the winter with a flagship new hospital, complete with A&E and operating theatre, a rugby complex and car boot fair.
Village owner Peter Williamson has invested a “significant five-figure sum” in the attraction during the close season taking his spend to more than £600,000 since he and his wife Shirley took over 10 years ago.
Staff are now completing the finishing touches to the manicured gardens ahead of the season’s opening on Saturday (March 29.)
And they are hoping to entertain upwards of 1,500 people on Sunday’s popular “pound day” when adults and children are charged just £1 for entry.
Mr Williamson, who is vice-chairman of Norfolk Tourist Attractions Association, said: “After the lovely weather we enjoyed last summer, I am optimistic about this being a boom year for tourism in Yarmouth and across the whole county.
“Last year’s prolonged summer really gave people the chance to rediscover the great beaches we have in Norfolk.”
The new St Mark’s Hospital building - “one of the largest models we have installed” - was made by a specialist firm in Somerset.
Their investment has seen annual visitor numbers increase from 18,000 when they took over to a record 54,000
two years ago which they are aiming to beat this summer, weather permitting.
“We get day visitors coming from as far afield as Cambridge and Felixstowe, and some regulars who have been coming since the village opened in 1961,” he said.
Around 2,000 Tesco workers discovered their jobs were at risk after the supermarket giant disclosed the locations of 43 store closures including two in Essex - a Homeplus store at Chelmsford and a smaller store in Heybridge.