Great Yarmouth fire-hit businesses find a new lease of life inside Victoria Arcade
- Credit: David Hannant
A year after the devastating Regent Road fire in Great Yarmouth reporter David Hannant talks to traders who are re-building their businesses.
Perhaps those affected most by the devastation of the blaze were the business owners operating within the indoor market.
With the contents of the building burned to rubble, around 40 small businesses were left out of action, with the proprietors in need of finding new homes and with huge costs of replacing lost stock.
However, the destruction of the indoor market has spelled something of a rejuvenation for another of the town's retail locations - Victoria Arcade.
Since the blaze, a number of businesses from the indoor market have found new homes inside the arcade, which runs between King Street, Regent Street and Howard Street.
One of the first to move in was Woodcraft Gifts, ran by Richard Marks and Ele Rodgers, which makes and sells hand-crafted wooden gifts.
Mr Marks, 58, said: 'We are now really happy here and it is all going according to plan. When we moved in, I was hoping lots of the other traders would follow us in and many of them have.'
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One of the first to follow the pair was 82-year-old Mike Wallis, who owns puppetry and magic shop Wallis's Wonders - who opened his new location on November 5.
He said: 'I love it in Victoria Arcade. I am very blessed that I had a core group of customers, but here I am finding that new ones are discovering the shop that may not have done so otherwise.
'For me, it feels like we have also rejuvenated Victoria Arcade. More of the units are full now and I enjoy having some of the same neighbours from the market.'
The first market business to move into the arcade was film and television memorabilia shop Branded, which re-opened at the start of October.
Ran by Stephen Cook, the store found such success in its new location that it later moved to a larger unit the opposite side of the arcade.
The original trio have since been followed by a handful of other former market traders, including Steve's Pick n Mix, Legends and Memorabilia and Unique Gifts.
However, while most owners have hailed the move a success, Paul Walia, owner of T-Shirt King, says his new location in the arcade has cost him around 70pc of his trade.
He said: 'For me it is not good. If things do not improve for me I will have to take my business elsewhere.'