The big news this morning has been all about the the fire that engulfed an old Lakeland building in Ash Street, Bowness-on-Windermere. Ash Street is a well-trodden cobbled street located in Bowness centre, just 2 minutes’ walk from our guest house, Blenheim Lodge. Yesterday, as we were driving out of Bowness to Edinburgh, we found ourselves being stopped by police from entering Lake Road (aka Craig Brow), the main thoroughfare in Bowness and Windermere, which leads to the A592. Police had cordoned off all roads leading into Bowness, except for access through windy country roads – what locals call the Crook Road.
Vinegar Jones is a well-located fish and chip shop and restaurant straddling Ash Street and Church Street, the main road leading to the promenade by Lake Windermere. It is a popular place for locals and visitors to pick up a quick fish supper. Yesterday, Vinegar Jones was no more. A fire requiring the services of 6-8 fire engines, depending on which report one reads, was doused eventually by water drawn directly from the Lake, as one of our guests reported. As usual, Bowness was enjoying lovely sunshine, so there was no rain to help dampen the flames.
A number of news services reported the fire. The local newspaper, Westmorland Gazette, screamed the headlines: ‘Bowness fish and chip business completely gutted by blaze’ (www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/9663462.GALLERY__Bowness_fish_and_chip_business_completely_gutted_by_blaze). Meanwhile Lakeland Radio also reported the fire and has published a series of photographs documenting the catastrophe (http://lakelandradio.co.uk/galleries/bowness-fire).
I am just so glad that no one was hurt in this horrendous blaze. ITV news headlined the report with ‘It is lucky that no one has been killed’ – my sentiments exactly (www.itv.com/news/border/story/2012-04-22/cumbrian-chip-shop-fire). According to some reports, the blaze started at 10:15 am, before the area became crowded with people milling around. See www.fire.org.uk/news/2012/04/23/road-closed-over-chip-shop-blaze-in-cumbria.html.
A sudden fire like this really does bring to mind what can happen in the blink of an eye. Having resided in Bowness for 10 years, and seen Vinegar Jones going from strength to business strength, one would never have expected the shop and business to become decimated in less than a day. How transient can the status quo be!
Bowness-on-Windermere is blessed with many eateries, including excellent restaurants, bistros and pubs, and there are other fish and chip shops, so visitors will still find a huge selection of meals available while visiting this pretty town. However, Vinegar Jones held a key place in restaurant terms, both in terms of its location and its longevity. It is thus a pity that it is no more.
Meanwhile, life goes on and Bowness town is back to its usual bustle. Visitors who arrived today would probably be unaware of the drama that took place yesterday. And it is to be hoped that we will never have such drama to contend with again in a very very long time indeed!
Meanwhile, do take a look at the photo below. Isn’t Bowness picturesque with Lake Windermere and its mountains for a backdrop? If you are thinking of visiting the Lakes, Blenheim Lodge still has vacancies for the upcoming May Public Holiday long weekend; so do come on by and enjoy some special time away by yourself or with others. We would love to welcome you to our world.
‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’
Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com