Town has a new seafront after eight-year wait to rid it of eyesore
- Credit: IAN BURT
For eight years it was a fire-ravaged eyesore scarring an otherwise picturesque seafront.
For the last five months many who earn their living on that idyllic coastline have been recovering from the biggest tidal surge in its history.
Now, rising from adversity, three new businesses are opening at the long-awaited redevelopment of the site of the former Gray's amusement arcade, in Wells, which was gutted by fire in 2005.
Cellar by the Quay wine shop is being run by Peter Chalmers and David Sleight, who plan to open before Easter, Quayside Gallery, being run by Tottering-by-Gently cartoonist Annie Tempest, with Raymond O'Shea, opened yesterday and Ship-to-Shore nautical clothing shop, owned by Andrew Hogan, opened last week.
Frustrations remain over the still vacant neighbouring site but the highly-anticipated redevelopment of this prominent part of Wells seafront is, for many, a major cause for celebration.
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Mr Hogan said: 'Wells has got so much to offer and now with an eclectic mix of independently-owned retail businesses instead of an eyesore there is more reason for people to visit this part of the town.
'If the missing link is sorted out we have got arguably one of the most iconic waterfronts in the eastern counties here.'
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While some quayside business remain closed due to damage suffered in the December 5 floods, there remains a strong sense of optimism in the town.
Miss Tempest, who lives in Stibbard, near Fakenham, said: 'It's been like a serendipity.
'Everybody is refurbishing their properties and making them flood proof and everything is looking sparkling and new.
She added: 'It's always great to open next to a wine shop - the Totterings are delighted to be here.'
Mr Chalmers said: 'Wells is on the up and we're very excited to be in the town.'
The redevelopment is also good news for Sowerbys estate agents, whose Wells office is next to the building and has just been refurbished after suffering flood damage.
Owner Max Sowerby said: 'I'm so pleased to see new life being breathed into this part of Wells.'
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