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The big stories in the Bury St Edmunds area in 2002 including the Center Parcs fire, Queen's Golden Jubilee visit to Bury and Stowmarket and tragic Soham murders





2002: It was the year the Queen celebrated 50 years on the throne; Arsenal won the FA Cup; the 20th James Bond film – Die Another Day – was released; and the year started with Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman at number one in the charts with their cover version of Somethin' Stupid.

Closer to home, it was a year which included royal visits, a major holiday park blaze, gas leak evacuations and a celebrity wedding.

Here, we have trawled the archives to take a look at some of the big stories in the Bury St Edmunds area from the Bury Free Press in 2002.

Mildenhall Air Fete was permanently cancelled in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
Mildenhall Air Fete was permanently cancelled in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

The world-famous Mildenhall Air Fete was cancelled in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Security risks led organisers to scrap the popular event.

The last air fete, in 2001, had attracted 550,000 visitors and boasted 143 aircraft from 14 countries.

The Bury Free Press reported on the Queen Mother's death in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
The Bury Free Press reported on the Queen Mother's death in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

The streets of Bury fell silent as the funeral of the Queen Mother was held.

The nation's 'favourite grandmother' was remembered by Bury Free Press readers. Among them was Gladys Turner, 101, of Glastonbury Court, who was born in the same month as the Queen Mother – August 1900.

Gladys, who met the Queen Mother in August 2000, said: "When I saw her at Sandringham she looked a bit frail and she was showing her age, but then her birthday was before mine so she was slightly older than me."

A major gas leak on Moreton Hall saw homes evacuated in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
A major gas leak on Moreton Hall saw homes evacuated in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

Moreton Hall residents were faced with evacuating their homes twice in a matter of months as a result of two major gas leaks.

The estate's community centre helped to shelter residents while the leaks were investigated and made safe.

Cattle Market development plans from 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
Cattle Market development plans from 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

Early plans for the Cattle Market redevelopment project went public, including an 'anchor store', civic square and 35-40 shops.

Lester Hampson, of developers Centros Miller, said: "Bury is a special place and this is not something we can hurry because we have to get it right."

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker swung through Thetford Forest at the launch of Go Ape! in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker swung through Thetford Forest at the launch of Go Ape! in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker and other band members swung through the trees of Thetford Forest to mark the opening of the Go Ape! adventure course and ahead of their summer gig at High Lodge.

Work on the Millennium Tower was progressing in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
Work on the Millennium Tower was progressing in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

Building work on the Millennium Tower, at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, saw the structure reach 75ft – half way to its eventual 150ft height.

Cathedral Dean the Very Rev James Atwell said: "The tower will give a focus to the historical core and people won't have to drive round and round the town looking for the Cathedral any more."

The project was on target for completion in February 2004.

A Theatre Royal restoration bid was launched in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
A Theatre Royal restoration bid was launched in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

A major bid to restore the Regency Theatre Royal, in Westgate Street, to its former glory was launched in 2002.

Center Parcs news after the fire of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
Center Parcs news after the fire of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Thousands of holidaymakers were sent home after an inferno engulfed the Center Parcs plaza.

Around 150 firefighters from Suffolk and Norfolk tackled the blaze as it ripped through the holiday village's central area.

A 200ft plume of smoke could be seen from miles around.

A front page splash from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
A front page splash from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Plans for a peanut factory on the Moreton Hall estate were given the thumbs down by St Edmundsbury Borough Council – much to the jubilation of campaigners opposed to the proposal.

A story about Cupola House from 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
A story about Cupola House from 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

The history 17th century Grade I-listed Cupola House, in the Traverse, was sold off by brewing giant Greene King.

The dilapidated building had been on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register, hitting the headlines for its leaning tower.

Great Barton called for a bypass in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
Great Barton called for a bypass in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

Great Barton villagers called for a bypass as plans for a 114,900sqm IKEA distribution centre at Stanton's Shepherd's Grove Industrial Estate were unveiled.

It was thought the IKEA centre could create 300 jobs once complete.

One of the big stories from the Bury Free Press in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
One of the big stories from the Bury Free Press in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

£5 million plans to close the A14 Rookery Crossroads, at Rougham, to help improve road safety were revealed.

The road scheme included building a new two-level interchange.

More homes were planned for the Westley side of town in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
More homes were planned for the Westley side of town in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Land between the Westley estate and Westley village was earmarked for 800 new homes, as St Edmundsbury Borough Council put forward its blueprint for development in the borough up to 2016.

Our report on High Baxter Street from 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
Our report on High Baxter Street from 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

The dilapidated state of High Baxter Street came under fire just days after nearby Hatter Street was voted the finest street in East Anglia, by Radio Four listeners.

"Compared to other streets in the town centre, this street is an absolute disgrace," said John Gillham, High Baxter Street resident.

"In the town centre you have to go a long way to find a more neglected street."

Palmers and Debenhams were bidding for the Cattle Market anchor store site in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
Palmers and Debenhams were bidding for the Cattle Market anchor store site in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Palmers and Debenhams both made bids to become the anchor store of the proposed Cattle Market redevelopment.

Palmers managing director Bruce Sturrock told the Bury Free Press: "We will be putting our heart and soul into this. We have a record of considerable investment in the town and we would have done this a long time before if the opportunity had been there to do so."

St Edmundsbury Borough Council's Cattle Market working party heard presentations from both retailers ahead of making a decision.

Conkers at the Thorpe Morieux Bull in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
Conkers at the Thorpe Morieux Bull in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

An annual conker championship got under way at the Thorpe Morieux Bull.

Bombs were found in beet in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
Bombs were found in beet in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Bomb squad officers sealed off part of the sugar beet factory, in Bury, when six wartime shells were discovered.

The find was discovered in a load of sugar beet after it had been washed.

The Abbeygate Street Caffe Uno enjoyed a busy week as café culture took off in Bury St Edmunds in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
The Abbeygate Street Caffe Uno enjoyed a busy week as café culture took off in Bury St Edmunds in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Café culture was booming in Bury as the Abbeygate Street branch of Caffé Uno – which had been open for four years – celebrated its busiest week and the 63-strong chain's busiest week ever nationally.

One of the big stories from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
One of the big stories from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

It was thought Bury Town FC could be on the move to another site in the town.

The club's Ram Meadow site was being considered for additional car parking to provide additional spaces to replace those lost through the Cattle Market redevelopment.

One of the big stories from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
One of the big stories from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

The borough council proposed selling the Corn Exchange and Market Cross buildings to help fund a new public building – later named the Apex – in the redeveloped Cattle Market, along with investments in Bury and Haverhill leisure centres.

Pat Church celebrated a cinema milestone in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
Pat Church celebrated a cinema milestone in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Bury silver screen legend Pat Church celebrated 40 years in the cinema industry in 2002.

The manager of the Odeon cinema, in Hatter Street, enjoyed a surprise party to mark the milestone.

Myra Hindley died at West Suffolk Hospital in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
Myra Hindley died at West Suffolk Hospital in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Moors Murderer Myra Hindley died at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury, aged 60.

She had been imprisoned at Highpoint.

One of the big stories from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
One of the big stories from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

The boss of St Nicholas Hospice hit out at hospital visitors parking on the hospice site.

Bob Jones said the parking situation was making it difficult and dangerous for hospice patients.

"St Nicholas Hospice is at the back of the hospital site. The access road to it is now regularly clogged with illegally-parked cars to the extent ambulances have to drive over grass banks and pavements, causing pain and distress to seriously ill patients," said Mr Jones.

How we reported on missing schoolgirls Holly and Jessica in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
How we reported on missing schoolgirls Holly and Jessica in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Police confirmed two bodies found near RAF Lakenheath were those of missing Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Ian Huntley, college caretaker, was charged with their murder, while his girlfriend Maxine Carr was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Some of the big stories from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives (62747066)
Some of the big stories from the Bury Free Press of 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives (62747066)

St Edmundsbury Borough Council proposed plans to close Abbeygate Street to traffic on Sundays, in addition to existing restrictions Monday to Saturday.

Meanwhile, consultation was also held on plans to extend the weekday road closures from 4pm to 6pm daily.

The Queen's visit to Bury St Edmunds for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
The Queen's visit to Bury St Edmunds for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

Crowds flocked to Angel Hill to welcome the Queen and Prince Philip on their first visit to Bury since 1961.

The Royal couple were greeted with waving flags and rapturous applause during their Golden Jubilee visit – after touring Stowmarket earlier in the day.

They enjoyed a civic reception at The Athenaeum, a walkabout on Angel Hill and performances in the Abbey Gardens before departing in the royal helicopter from grounds near St James' Middle School.

Ickworth Hotel opened in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives
Ickworth Hotel opened in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archives

The 27-bedroom Ickworth Hotel opened in the east wing of the National Trust's Ickworth House following a major transformation project.

Claudia Schiffer married Matthew Vaughn in Lavenham in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive
Claudia Schiffer married Matthew Vaughn in Lavenham in 2002. Picture: Bury Free Press archive

And finally, 'shrinking violet' blushing bride supermodel Claudia Schiffer kept fans guessing when she wed director Matthew Vaughn in Shimpling during the summer of 2002.

The pair had made their home in nearby Stanningfield earlier in the year, however Claudia hid under blankets when leaving the Lavenham Swan for Shimpling on her wedding day.