Businessman's hotel hit by fire

A HOTEL owned by a Suffolk businessman has been ravaged by fire after a blaze ripped through its roof causing thousands of pounds worth of damage this week.

A HOTEL owned by a Suffolk businessman has been ravaged by fire after a blaze ripped through its roof causing thousands of pounds worth of damage this week.

More than 70 firefighters from three counties tackled the flames that engulfed the Elizabeth Hotel in Corby, Northamptonshire, which is owned by Ipswich businessman Richard Cattermole.

Mr Cattermole, who lives in Westerfield, is the chief executive of Elizabeth Holdings and owns 16 hotels across the country including six in Suffolk and five in Norfolk.

He was unavailable for comment yesterday but Neil Forbes, managing director of the company, said he was relieved no one was hurt as a result of the blaze.

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He said: “The fire has caused significant damage to our conference and banqueting facilities and half the roof is missing but the most important thing is that neither employees nor guests were injured.

“It is not yet known how the blaze started but it burnt for about six hours and we are currently waiting for the fire service to give us the all clear before we can go back in.

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“We will be aiming to get the hotel up and running again as soon as possible. It has been one of our most successful hotels since we acquired it in 2000 and we do have a problem because it is one of our busiest times.

“However we managed to relocate our guests to another hotel within the vicinity. We are also contacting all future guests to advise them of the situation but we are hoping the bedroom accommodation will be back on in six or seven days because that has been unaffected.”

The blaze broke out just after 10pm on Thursday and all 83 guests were evacuated and ferried to the nearby Holiday Inn.

Residents gathered in the street to watch as the roof caved in, wrecking function rooms, kitchens and staff bedrooms at the hotel.

Firefighters were still at the scene early yesterday morning dealing with the aftermath and trying to establish what started the blaze.

Police are also helping with the investigation into the fire, which is the fourth at the hotel in the last three months.

Senior fire officer at the scene, group manager Neil Eaton, said: “The flames were coming out of the roof when the engines pulled up. The fire had spread really quickly as the roof is full of timbers. “Firefighters had to go inside to get access to the roof to stop the fire accelerating. We have no idea of the cause - my job now is to start the fire investigation.”

Mr Cattermole, who is the 13th richest man in Suffolk and worth an estimated £39milliom, founded his company in 1971 when he bought a run-down terraced house in Ipswich for £800.

He now runs Elizabeth Holdings and owns 1,339 properties made up of offices, retail, private houses, clubs and hotels.

His hotels in Suffolk include Hotel Elizabeth, Copdock, Ipswich, Hotel Hatfield, Lowestoft, Wherry Hotel, Lowestoft, Kings Head Hotel, Beccles, Limes Hotel, Needham Market and Hotel Elizabeth Orwell, Felixstowe.

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