Plunged into darkness

PUBLISHED: 08:05 11 October 2007 | UPDATED: 21:50 29 May 2010

Jane Charlton, dispensing optician at Bird & Fairley Opticians, works by the light of a battery powered camping light – Pic: Michael Boyton

Jane Charlton, dispensing optician at Bird & Fairley Opticians, works by the light of a battery powered camping light – Pic: Michael Boyton

A POWER cut that hit Dunmow on Monday lunchtime caused havoc to businesses and may have cost traders tens of thousands of pounds. Electricity supplies went off in the town at 1.32pm leaving buildings in darkness and businesses without power, telephones or

A POWER cut that hit Dunmow on Monday lunchtime caused havoc to businesses and may have cost traders tens of thousands of pounds.

Electricity supplies went off in the town at 1.32pm leaving buildings in darkness and businesses without power, telephones or computers.

Jane Charlton, dispensing optician at Bird & Fairley Opticians on High Street, had to fill in patients' records by hand, using a camping light so she could see.

"This has played real havoc with our business. Much of the equipment we use for eye tests is electronic which means we can't treat people and have had to cancel appointments," she said. "We've phoned up the energy suppliers EDF and they can't tell us when the power's likely to come back on." She estimated they had lost £500.

At Naturals Health and Beauty in Angel Lane, staff had to use their own mobile telephones to contact customers to cancel appointments.

"Much of the equipment we use is electrical so we can't treat our customers. The phones don't work, neither does the till," said beauty therapist Alison Swainston. "We couldn't find out what time the power was likely to come back on so we've had to use our own mobile phones to cancel appointments."

The staff all work on commission and estimated the salon had lost approximately £200 in cancelled appointments but that didn't include business they had lost by people not being able to book appointments.

The Co-Op store on White Street had to close for business while there was no power.

Tina Brain, store supervisor, said: "We had a fair few customers in here when the power failed. Luckily, we have emergency lighting and one till that has five minutes' reserve power."

Once the power came back on Tina and her staff had to check temperature levels in the freezers and fridges before opening again to customers 15 minutes after the power came back on.

Caroline Sewell, landlady at the Boars Head on High Street had to turn diners away as no power meant she could not work in the kitchens.

"All of the cookers and fryers are electric and you can't work in a dark kitchen; it's dangerous," she said. "I had three customers waiting for their food who I had to turn away and while the power was down others came in to eat that we couldn't serve."

Luckily for drinkers the beer was still able to flow although, with no till, bar bills had to be calculated using pen and paper.

A spokesman for energy suppliers EDF Energy said: "Power was interrupted to several thousands of customers in Dunmow, Wethersfield, Takeley, White Roding Thaxted, Saffron Walden, and Halstead.

"EDF Energy Networks engineers restored the first supplies at 1.56pm and completed work to reconnect the final customers affected at 3.21pm. We are investigating the cause for this interruption to supply.

"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.

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