Businesses relocate after fear they would be finished

Karen Scrimshaw outside Marilyn and Melrose which is now in Narrowgate, Alnwick. Ref: JC M and M 1
Karen Scrimshaw outside Marilyn and Melrose which is now in Narrowgate, Alnwick. Ref: JC M and M 1

Two Alnwick businesses have relocated to a different part of the town after their street was closed off because of structural concerns.

Bow Alley was closed for health and safety reasons last month because of distortion of the Oscar’s Wine Bar wall at the end of the street.

The bulge in the wall has been there for many years, but now it is coming away from the windows on both levels, with concerns that it could come down.

Therefore, the street was shut by Northumberland County Council’s highways team on safety grounds.

But for the owners of Marilyn and Melrose and Specially for You, it meant their main access was blocked off, with potential customers having to make a detour along Greenwell Road to get to the shops.

Now Northumberland Estates, which leases the buildings, has given owners Karen Scrimshaw and Margaret Anne High, licences for empty properties on Narrowgate.

They are only being charged one rent but have to fork out for utilities at both premises.

Mrs Scrimshaw, who owns Marilyn and Melrose, said: “We are obviously very grateful that we have got somewhere to trade from because Bow Alley is just an unknown at the moment.

“There is no question about it that if we had stayed on Bow Alley, Margaret and I would be out of business, we would be finished.

“Once I had left, Margaret had three customers in four days.”

Meetings have taken place between Northumberland Estates, Northumberland County Council and the owner of Oscar’s and a temporary road closure notice has been issued for the street until December 30 this year.

Karen added: “There are a lot of people involved in this and the impetus is on the owner of Oscar’s to get things done. But it also involves the commitment of the county council and listed buildings team.

“It’s definitely months, not weeks. But no one knows how long it will go on.”

Marilyn and Melrose sells a variety of gifts, vintage interiors, hand-painted furniture, upholstery, curtains and more.

And it is one of the only stockists of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Northumberland.

It also runs workshops for Annie Sloan paint which will still go ahead at the Bow Alley premises.

“We do all sorts,” she said.

Margaret is moving her business into a Narrowgate property in the near future.

But the women only have seven-month licences for the premises and it is hoped that work is complete by then.

Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castle said: “This is a matter of high importance and we have got to make sure this moves quickly.

“I will be contacting the county council’s public protection officer to find out what is happening.”