What next for town, a year after supermarket inferno?
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
The team behind a supermarket which burned to the ground a year ago now have their sights set firmly on the future.
Jane Gurney-Read, managing director of CT Baker in Holt, said it was hard to believe 12 months had already passed since the devastating fire at its Budgens store in Kerridge Way, which was the town's only supermarket.
Mrs Gurney-Read, who was one of scores of people who saw first-hand the supermarket go up in flames on June 20 last year, said: "It was heartbreaking. Your first reaction is: 'Thank goodness nobody was hurt'. The steel got to such a temperature it was actually dripping. It was shocking how quickly it all went up - seeing fires today, my tummy still turns."
Mrs Gurney-Read said she and others had been at a celebration at Holt Rugby Club to mark the 250th anniversary of the town's Bakers and Larners department store - also owned by CT Baker - when they heard about the blaze and rushed over.
Firefighters worked throughout the night and were able to save the neighbouring buildings, but Budgens was beyond repair.
CT Baker later set up a temporary supermarket in the car park, and is now planning to build a permanent replacement store on the footprint of the old one.
It had been hoped the new Budgens could be open by this Christmas, but Mrs Gurney-Read said there had been some delays in planning, and they were now looking towards a date next year.
She said: "It's proving to be complex because we are not the landlord, there is also a tenant and we are the sub-tenant. So it's a matter of all three parties getting our ducks in a row.
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"We're very excited about the plans. It will be a 13,000 sq ft store and we know exactly what the inside will look like.
"There will be electric charging points in the car park, we're introducing some self-service tills and we'll be doing more home deliveries, to reflect the way people are living now."
Holt's Post Office - which was in the old Budgens - will move into the new store, replacing a temporary desk in Bakers and Larners.
The fire of Budgens: Staff and customers share recollections
"I'd say 80pc of the staff where here - it was an unbelievable night. I was devastated. I've been here 30-odd years and you see it as all your work gone in half an hour. It was a nightmare. But thankfully we've done what we're here for, serving the local community. The effect it had on everybody was just amazing. Where has that year gone? It's gone incredibly fast." - Sandra Taylor-Meeds, of Langham, general manager of Budgens of Holt
"I'd finished work at 4pm and got a message from someone who used to work there saying we think there's been a fire. By the time we got here it was near enough gone. I just cried. I'd been there then 13 years. Everybody was out, all the customers who live around here and all the staff. The temporary store has been nice, but obviously we miss the old store, and we want the rebuild. It has been nice to see the customers come back." - Maggie Hoyland, 63, Sheringham, Budgens employee
"It was horrible. My husband works here as well, he was the duty manager and we'd just locked up half an hour before. We'd just got home and got a call saying 'Budgens is on fire'. I thought: 'don't be so stupid, we've just left it'. But it was in flames. It was a devastating night. It's nice to be back though, I love my work and my colleagues." - Camielle Ashlin, 45, from Dereham, Budgens employee
"I'm a key holder and I got the first phone call from the security company on the night. I was here in eight minutes, in my pyjamas, and I could see the smoke before I got here. I called the fire brigade. All credit to Holt Fire and Rescue, they were here within four minutes but by the time they got here it was already too late. It was beginning to spread slightly so their goal was stop it spreading into the town. It was a long old night" - Jack Sadler, 28 from Holt, Budgens duty manager
"We heard about it the next morning and thought they were pulling our leg. We had heard all the sirens going off but when somebody said Budgens is completely gone, we couldn't believe it. I think a lot of people around here felt its loss even more than us because they don't drive. When the temporary store opened up it was a godsend." -Linda Byford, 76, from Holt, Budgens customer
"It was frightening really. We thought: 'crikey, what are we going to do now?' This is the one supermarket in Holt and it's gone. Bearing in mind the population of Holt tends to be on the senior side. We've lived here for 14 years and the supermarket was important to us." - Colin Byford, 75, from Holt, Budgens customer