Owner of bowling alley and indoor market destroyed in Great Yarmouth fire hopes to rebuild as soon as possible
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The owner of a bowling alley and indoor market which was destroyed by a fire is a hoping to get the building rebuilt 'as soon as possible'.
Phil Thompson was devastated to see the blaze tear through the building on Regent Road in Great Yarmouth.
After what had been a successful summer season to date for the Regent Superbowl owner, he saw his building left in rubble. Meanwhile, traders have been devastated by the loss of their businesses during the peak summer period.
Mr Thompson said: 'I got a call at 4am and rushed over as soon as I could.
'This had been our best season but the building is totally destroyed – it has to come down it is too unsafe.
'I am just now waiting to see what the building assessors say, but the building is insured and it is my aim to make sure it is rebuilt as soon as possible. I just feel sorry for the traders.'
Regent Road, is right at the heart of the seaside town, and at is peak season is expected to be full to the brim with tourists and summer visitors heading down the street to get to the seafront.
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However, the fire has halted many businesses who will not only lose out on the busy summer period, but also on thousands of pounds worth of stock.
Mr Thompson said that the building's fire regulations were up to date.
Stephen Cook, who runs a television and film memorabilia stall inside the building, said: 'There is nothing left.'
Another trader, who did not want to be named, said: 'It is shocking,
'I rushed down as soon as I heard what had happened and it was all up in flames and I saw the building cave in. It is a sad time.
'We've all lost our businesses and much more.
'We have all been trying to get insurance and you never think it's going to happen to you.
'To happen in the peak season and a time where we have all been doing so well is truly heartbreaking.'
The much-loved indoor market
Both the Regent Superbowl and the indoor market place have been integral parts of the Regent Road scene for many years.
In recent years they have been owned by Phil Thompson, a long established businessman in the Great Yarmouth borough, who bought the business in November 2012. In an aim to improve the indoor market place, the facility underwent a £300,000 revamp in February 2014.
The work included building new secure units with roller shutters, replacing the toilets and decorating the indoor arcade throughout.
The market place had around 40 different stalls at the time of the fire.
Its kiosks sold items such as toys, intricate glass ware, dream catchers, art work and novelties.
Locals have spoken of their fond memories of the bowling alley and market, as well their sadness that the building has been destroyed by a fire.
Tony Higgins, 52, said: 'I remember going to the bowling alley with my friends as a youngster all the time in the 1970s with both my friends and family. I had such great memories there and I still tried to go on Saturdays whenever I could.
'To think that the bowling alley and indoor market place, which has also been a staple in the town, are to likely come down as a result of the fire is extremely sad.'
Vanessa Taylor, 42, from Gorleston, said: 'I always visited the market place it had such a great arrange of items and the people working there are lovely. I feel really sorry for them.'
The bustling, busy Regent Road
A collective sense of shock and disbelief hangs over Great Yarmouth as the scale of the fire on its most familiar thoroughfare becomes apparent.
Sadness has swept over the seaside town while just hours before in bright summer sunshine Regent Road was full of families enjoying its sugary treats and souvenir shops, colourful 'emoji' cushions bouncing around in the breeze.
The road, which radiates from the town centre to the seafront, is the tourism hub of the town and home to many cafés, restaurants, ice-cream parlours and shops selling all manner of gifts and gimmicks.
The indoor market, situated in a prime position, was bustling on Thursday, just hours before the devastating fire took hold.
Its kiosks selling toys, cards, intricate glass ware, dream catchers, art work, and novelties were drawing browsers and the café at the back was busy.
A tattoo artist was working on a client from his premises directly fronting the street as holidaymakers walked past, glancing in.
Regent Road, which is vital to the tourism economy, has come in for some flak over the years with accusations that it is 'tacky', but others say it encompasses the 'raspberry-blowing kiss-me-quick' flavour of the seaside.
Some high profile business have closed in recent years including the waxworks, whose models famously looked little like their celebrity counterparts.