New homes for several traders three months after Regent Road blaze

Richard Marks and Ele Rodgers of Woodcraft Gifts, Mike Wallis of Wallis's Wonders and Stephen Cook o

Richard Marks and Ele Rodgers of Woodcraft Gifts, Mike Wallis of Wallis's Wonders and Stephen Cook of Branded in their new home of Victoria Arcade - Credit: David Hannant

Three months on from the devastating blaze that tore through the heart of Great Yarmouth things are looking up for some of the traders.

Today marks 13 weeks since the fire broke out in Regent Road, destroying the indoor market, bowling alley and the dozens of businesses inside.

In its wake, desolation, with traders left without livelihoods and with the loss of thousands of pounds worth of stock.

But now some of those hit hard are up and running again – and even moving to year-round trade.

Among those back in business is 79-year-old magic shop owner Mike Wallis, whose shop - Wallis’s Wonders – re-opens tomorrow in Victoria Arcade.

Mr Wallis said: “The fire was devastating for all of us. I myself lost at least £45,000 of stock, some of which was irreplaceable.

“However, I have been very blessed since, as the magic community rallied around to raise money to help me.”

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A benefit concert held in Gorleston and hosted by Olly Day raised £2,740, which Mr Wallis said he was “blown away” by. The shop re-opens at 11am, after several weeks of renovation and restocking, and will be the third Regent Road business to have found a new home in the arcade.

Mr Wallis, whose shop also stocks puppets, added: “I believe it will prove a good move for all three businesses - it is a beautiful arcade and deserves to have businesses inside.”

The shop follows Woodcraft Gifts and Branded, who are also settling into life in Victoria Arcade, having already opened their doors.

Richard Marks, co-owner of Woodcraft Gifts, said: “We actually found the new location two weeks after the fire, but it took some time to get everything ready.

“We were originally just a summer business, however this year we are going to stay open to make up for the loss of time. We never normally would have considered Christmas trade.”

Mr Marks, 57, runs the business with partner Ele Rodgers, who described the fire as “like a bereavement in the family”.

The pair make hand-crafted wooden plaques and gifts, customised for each individual customer.

The first of the three to move into the arcade was film and television memorabilia shop Branded, which re-opened at the beginning of October.

Stephen Cook, shop owner said: “Getting back open was a massive relief, not only to us, but to our customers. We received lots of messages on social media asking us when we could get back open, so we’re glad we are back in business.”

“We spent three-and-a-half years building the store to the point we had when the fire happened, so it was a huge blow to us.”

A fourth business, Steve’s Pick ‘n’ Mix is also hoping to secure a move to the King Street shopping centre. Away from Victoria Arcade, other businesses are also making preparations for future moves, with the owners of Art of Glass, Spray T-Shirts and Ken Perkins Photography and Canvas Printing hoping to finalise details of a new shared location in Regent Road soon.

Meanwhile, £18,894 has been raised by an appeal launched by the Great Yarmouth Mercury, along with sister papers the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News and the Norfolk Community Foundation.

Payments of £500 have so far been given to 20 stall owners from the fund.