Norfolk industrial estate back in business after explosion repair work finishes

Rackheath Industrial Estate has finally returned to full working order more than eight months after a suspected gas explosion in January.

The industrial estate, north of Norwich, was rocked by the explosion that wiped KC Cafe off the map on the evening of Wednesday, January 12.

Fortunately, and quite miraculously, nobody was hurt. But the buildings surrounding the Wendover Road cafe felt the full brunt of the blast, including piping suppliers Stratstan.

The gable end of Stratstan's unit was blown out – causing damage of around �230,000 – and was initially closed off by the Health and Safety Executive before supplies were moved to other premises to resume business as normal.

Yesterday, workers from Stratstan gathered with representatives of Tilia Properties, which owns around half of the industrial estate and has carried out the repair work, to mark the completion of the work.

Simon Tuffnel, joint-owner of Stratstan, said: 'It's a relief to get it all done. I was on holiday when it happened so got a call and just saw all the damage online and couldn't believe the amount of devastation.'

Managing director of Tilia, Nicky Hovey, said: 'The devastation was huge and for Stratstan, one day they are running a nice little company and then an explosion completely blows one end off your building and it's closed by the Health and Safety Executive.'

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Tilia's contract manager Shaun Catterall, who has worked closely with architect Rodney Hale-Sutton on the rebuild, had started work at Rackheath just a week before the explosion.

He added: 'Nick had said, start slowly, get to know all the contractors, then this went bang and I went from slow to fast very quickly.

'I've worked on sites where there have been explosions before and this is by far the worst I have seen.'

The cause of the explosion has still not been confirmed but a report on the investigation is currently being finalised and will be published in the next few weeks.

Have you got a story about the Rackheath area? Call local reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email