Sheringham sinkhole tee shirts set to go on sale as workers continue underground surveys
PUBLISHED: 16:35 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:14 07 June 2019
Sheringham traders affected by the sinkhole which opened up in the town centre nearly two weeks ago are making the best of a bad situation, by coming up with a series of innovative ideas to use the catastrophe to boost flagging sales.
Cafe owners have taken advantage of a traffic-free High Street to place tables and chairs outside, a makeshift 'sinkhole viewing point' has been set up and sinkhole postcards have been snapped up by visitors to a local charity shop.
Julie Spooner, who is manager of the RSPCA shop, which is just a few yards away from where workmen are carrying out surveys to assess the extent of the void underneath the road, came up with a novel way of making the most of the sinkhole, designing and printing a stack of 'I've seen the Sheringham sinkhole' postcards, which she gave to shop visitors in return for a donation.
She said the hole, which is surrounded by barriers stretching the length of the main shopping area of High Street, had become a talking point among her customers, with some people making the trip to Sheringham just to see it.
"People seemed to be really interested and we used a whole pack of card and raised about £30 for the RSPCA," she explained. "We even had someone say their relatives in Australia were aware of it."
Mrs Spooner, who has worked at the shop since it opened in 2013, has now teamed up with Jack Southwell and Adam Blyth of next door clothing store Never Be Famous to produce a range of sinkhole tee shirts, which should go on sale next week.
Mr Blyth, who is working on designs for the shirts, said the sinkhole had led to a "massive" drop in trade compared to the same time last year.
"We have been told by Anglian Water that it could possibly be mid-August until it is sorted out, and, although the sinkhole has become a bit of a tourist attraction, there were big problems with the signage and the sewage smell, and the dust from drilling is terrible," he added.
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Other ideas have included a 'Visit the Sinkhole' poster, and a sinkhole window display created by artist Annie Gordon-Groom, who owns Heirloom Toys, at the bottom of High Street.
The scene, featuring toy figures, plastic diggers and a dolls house version of the shop, shows fairies and pirates looking on as Playmobil engineers work on repairing the sinkhole.
Drilling rig returns to sinkhole site as engineers continue investigations
Anglian Water engineers, two of whom will be attending a Sheringham Chamber of Trade meeting on June 12, are hoping to be in a position to produce a technical design plan for repairing the sinkhole by Monday, June 10.
A drilling rig has been returned to the site after some areas were identified as needing further investigation, but the annual Sheringham Carnival classic car show will go ahead as planned on Sunday, with additional parking available on Beeston common.
Sheringham deputy mayor Liz Withington said the town council was working with TMO Highways to look at improving signage, which some traders have complained has given the impression that High Street is closed to pedestrians - not just traffic.
Mrs Withington said: "Road signage is being further complicated by the unexpected closure of Cremer's Drift for emergency repairs, which has led to additional diversions, but, hopefully this will be short lived."