Businesses still feeling after-effects of 'disastrous' town centre fire
PUBLISHED: 10:24 06 April 2019
Archant © 2018
Ten months after a devastating fire tore through shop premises in Halesworth, businesses in the area are still suffering.
It seems they will be feeling the after-effects for some time.
The fire started by Stephen Wilson on Monday, June 11, left five businesses homeless.
Sheer willpower and community spirit helped DC Patrick Newsagents and the Hunky Dory vintage store to relocate, while two businesses based in upstairs office space are now being operated from home.
Pinky’s café, however, has ceased trading for good.
While several businesses were directly affected, countless others have been suffering the repercussions in the months following the blaze.
Alexander Carr, owner of Market Place wine shop, said Wilson had “destroyed lives as well as livelihoods.”
“The bloke who started that fire doesn’t realise the damage he’s done, not only to the town but to people’s lives,” said Mr Carr, 73. “It has shattered all of those business owners and that’s going to be with them forever.
“This disaster has affected trade, unfortunately. Up until now people simply didn’t want to see the ruins because it depressed them and they stayed away.
“With our two banks closing we’d already lost a lot of footfall. Add the effect of the fire and the general state of the economy, and things are up in the air.”
Antimacassar, an antiques and collectibles business, sits directly opposite the scene of the fire. Owner David Sheldrake, 53, said shop owners had been fighting a losing battle.
“There were obviously a few businesses directly affected by the fire which closed, but since then access to the Market Place has been a big issue,” added Mr Sheldrake.
“We certainly haven’t got a big footfall up here and a lot of businesses within the Market Place have suffered as a result of what happened.”
Kate Button, who runs Blackdog Antiques in Market Place, emphasised the severity of the fire’s impact.
“All the businesses in Market Place have been tremendously affected,” said Mrs Button, 65. “Everybody’s trade has gone down, from Boots to the Boarding House – everybody.
“Certainly our trade has been hit because of all the scaffolding, the lorries that have been there, the blocking of the road and bad signage. We rely on visitors to the town and most of them look towards to the Market Place, think it’s closed and drive on.”