Rain was pennies from heaven for some

LORNA MARSH While many tourism bosses lamented the relentless rain which washed away carefully planned bank holiday events, indoor attractions hailed it as pennies from heaven.

LORNA MARSH

While many tourism bosses lamented the relentless rain, which yesterday washed away carefully planned bank holiday events, indoor attractions hailed it as pennies from heaven.

The highest two-day rainfall recorded over two days by one amateur meteorologist meant day-trippers were pummelled following the hottest spring on record.

Seaside towns like Hunstanton, Cromer and Yarmouth were eerily quiet while town carnivals and other events were cancelled and rain sparked a number of minor car accidents.

But cinemas, shopping malls, bowling alleys and indoor attractions were happily deluged with visitors seeking refuge from the wash-out.

Trevor Wicks, managing director of Hollywood cinemas, which operates in Lowestoft, Fakenham, Dereham, Yarmouth and Norwich, said it was one of his busiest bank holidays.

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“Obviously with Pirates of the Caribbean out we were going to be busy anyway but because the whole bank holiday has been a wash-out people have not had much choice but to go somewhere indoors, the rain has just driven people in which is great for us. It is pennies from heaven.”

James Collins, duty manager of the Odeon at Riverside in Norwich, said about double the number of expected visitors had flooded through the doors. And at nearby Hollywood Bowl general manager Nick Cook said it had seen about ten times the normal bank holiday volume.

Footfall at The Mall, Norwich, and Chapelfield shopping centre was boosted. Alan Day, manager of The Mall, said: “It is exceptionally busy, obviously the rain is driving everyone indoors. Long may it continue.”

But there were many more victims of the weather which sparked three Environment Agency flood warnings and nine flood watches for East Anglia.

Fire crews were called to Cromer pier yesterday morning to clear back and cordon off loose scaffolding boards. Crews also spent most of yesterday at the National Trust-owned Blickling Hall pumping water from the cellars.

Visitor services manager Patricia Murfin said: “The main areas affected are the kitchen area where visitors enter and some of the displays.”

Bure Valley Railway, at Aylsham, which was visited by Thomas the tank engine and friends, had to cancel plans for the children's bouncy castle.

A number of events in west Norfolk and the fens were also affected, with one of the biggest disappointments being the cancellation of the Downham Market carnival.

Scouts camping on the Sandringham Estate had to pack up tents and head for home on Sunday, although hundreds braved it out until the end.

In Yarmouth, visitors targeted indoor events leaving the Pleasure Beach to close at 6pm instead of 9pm on Sunday and at 2pm yesterday.

Tourism officer, Alan Carr, said: “Looking for positives, and it is difficult with the rain pouring down, there have been big queues outside the Sealife Centre. And our new seafront historical attraction Yesterday's World has also been very busy.”

The nine-hour music event planned at New Buckenham, near Attleborough, on Sunday was another casualty although it may be rescheduled

A Big Bounce charity day at Thetford for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust had to be drastically scaled down on Sunday.

At Watton, members of the southern Norfolk district had hoped to enjoy hot air balloon rides but the wet weather put paid to that and Funderworld at Costessey cancelled its Sunday afternoon session.

John Ross, of Norton's Farm near Thursford, who has been recording rain fall for the area said 3.15in had fallen in two days - the highest he has known since he started the task in 1960.

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