A long-established Bideford builders merchants has overcome the effects of a disastrous fire. Sixteen months ago the Jewson premises at Nutaberry Works, East-the-Water, was destroyed in one of the town s biggest fires of recent times. Sixty fire fighters

A long-established Bideford builders merchants has overcome the effects of a disastrous fire.Sixteen months ago the Jewson premises at Nutaberry Works, East-the-Water, was destroyed in one of the town's biggest fires of recent times. Sixty fire fighters from across the region fought the outbreak.But the business went on, providing for customers from the site yard and swiftly-erected portable buildings.Now a four-month, £1.6 million, rebuilding programme is almost complete, with staff preparing to move into new and substantially bigger main premises next week. Work will continue on other parts of the site for another three or four weeks. The expansive main building is segregated into specific departments, including a customer service area with big new sales office, staff room, computer and archive rooms and toilets, including for the disabled.There are also separate and secure areas for ordered goods, timber and panels, cement and plasterboard and tool hire. A new home for bricks and blocks will soon follow with the demolition of an old timber store.Bideford branch manager Peter Hortop, who leads the staff of 19, said Bideford's premises was the biggest to be created so far using a new company blueprint for Jewson branches of the future.He said: "It was a terrible thing that happened. It was disastrous. We don't want to look back at it. We have to look forward and one good thing that has come from this is that in the rebuilding we have been able to install modern facilities and the very latest of equipment. "We have also been able to iron out one or two wrinkles of the past, such as the removal of a bank in our yard to improve access to this area. The service side for our customers will now be even better."Business has not only continued throughout, but we have exceeded expectations in the level of business maintained. Our customers have been remarkably loyal and the staff have been unbelievable in difficult circumstances. We have now ended up with one of the best Jewson branches in the country.