Fakenham market goes ahead as town shows determination to move on from major fire

Fakenham Market has been moved to Bridge Street, due to the fire at the former Aldiss Department store. Picture: Matthew Usher. Fakenham Market has been moved to Bridge Street, due to the fire at the former Aldiss Department store. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Friday, May 30, 2014
9:12 AM

Traders were in positive mood yesterday when Fakenham’s popular weekly market went ahead, despite large parts of the town remaining closed off to the public as investigations into the cause of a major fire in the town continue.

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How can you help?

• The EDP’s Let’s Fight for Fakenham campaign aims to raise £10,000 within a month to help those affected by the fire.

• We are working with Norfolk Community Foundation to find ways to support people who have lost their homes and small business affected by Sunday’s blaze.

• You can help by making a cheque payable to Norfolk Community Foundation and taking it to your nearest EDP office; or sending it to: EDP Let’s Fight for Fakenham Appeal, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, or Norfolk Community Foundation, St James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1SH.

The familiar sights and sounds of traders busily setting up stalls in Fakenham could be seen and heard shortly after dawn broke yesterday.

The hard work on show has helped to make this one of the best markets in East Anglia.

• Support floods in for our Let’s Fight for Fakenham campaign

Fakenham Market has been moved to Bridge Street, due to the fire at the former Aldiss Department store - Stall holders Valarie and Colin Earl. Picture: Matthew Usher.Fakenham Market has been moved to Bridge Street, due to the fire at the former Aldiss Department store - Stall holders Valarie and Colin Earl. Picture: Matthew Usher.

• Let’s Fight for Fakenham appeal launched after devastating blaze

• Photo gallery and video: Crowds gather to see destruction caused by major blaze in Fakenham

But, yesterday, that determination was also symbolic of a town committed to moving on from the biggest and most devastating fire it has experienced for hundreds of years.

Fakenham Market has been moved to Bridge Street, due to the fire at the former Aldiss Department store - Peddlars Gold has had to close due to the fire. Picture: Matthew Usher.Fakenham Market has been moved to Bridge Street, due to the fire at the former Aldiss Department store - Peddlars Gold has had to close due to the fire. Picture: Matthew Usher.

After Sunday’s blaze, which has left a char grilled hole in the Market Place, with several nearby buildings structurally unsound, yesterday’s market was moved to the Bridge Street car park.

Fakenham Town Council, which organises the markets, accepted an offer from North Norfolk District Council to hold markets there free of charge in a move which has been hailed as an example of a community working together in adversity.

Despite wet weather, hundreds of people were out buying goods from the stalls.

Colin Earl, 81, from Foulsham is the fourth generation of his family to sell fish at the Fakenham markets and has done so for 60 years.

He said: “The markets are a big part of Fakenham and, when I came into the town on Tuesday and saw the fire brigade still there, I thought there was a good chance it wouldn’t be happening today and we’d all lose out on a day’s trade.

“I have to say the town council has done a tremendous job of getting it all going.

“The town clerk Linda Jennings and deputy clerk Jane Gant were here at 5.30am making sure everything was in order and I have to say they’ve done a great job - 10 out of 10 in my book.”

Robina Brewster, 69, from Dereham who shops at the Fakenham market most weeks, said: “It’s a shame what has happened but really good that they have managed to keep the market going - it brings in a lot of trade for shops and other businesses in the town as well.”

Marc Wye-Harris, 45, from Sheringham who runs a book and magazine stall at the market, said: “Fakenham has one of the best markets in East Anglia, by a long way, and the council has done a great job to get this sorted out in a good, central, location at short notice.”

Fakenham Town Council is permitted to hold the markets at Bridge Street car park for 14 weeks before requiring planning permission from North Norfolk District Council.

The district council has said planning permission could be sought retrospectively to ensure the markets keep running at Bridge Street, if necessary.

Mrs Jennings said: “The market went really well. People’s pitches were sorted out without any fuss and the traders worked together as a team.

“We want to move the market back to its original location as quickly as possible and will do so as soon as we are told it is safe to.”

Market Place is now open to traffic but the area around where the fire hit is closed off to the public.

Several nearby businesses remain closed.

Have you been affected? E mail adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk or call 01328 862678.

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