What made the news in early 2019? January to March in review
PUBLISHED: 15:00 25 December 2019
Picture: Thames Water
News of the Rockfish restaurant coming to Sidmouth, and plans for a new woodland in Ottery, were among the stories the Herald reported on in the first three months of 2019.
The discovery of a monster fatberg in a Sidmouth sewer catapulted the town into the national and international media spotlight. The fatberg, in a sewer under the Ham, was 64 metres long, and had formed like a snowball as oils and fats congealed around wet wipes, sanitary products and other things that should not have been flushed away. South West Water said it would take around eight weeks to remove.
A suspected secret World War bunker was found in woodland near Sidbury. The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART) said it could be one of the operational bunkers that were set up to be used by local resistance patrols in the event of a German invasion. The team appealed for information from the families of local men who might have been involved in the Sidbury patrol.
One of Sidmouth's oldest walls came crashing down as workers tried to install a telephone pole in Newtown. The original Victorian wall crumbled and collapsed, covering a garden with debris. The phone company, Openreach, apologised and promised to get the wall repaired as quickly as possible.
Ottery traders started the year on a positive note, saying they had seen an increase in sales and footfall during the winter months. There had been a major fire in the town centre, leading to road closures, but customers remained loyal to the town's independent businesses.
Plans for a bronze statue commemorating Ottery's most famous son, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, were approved by the district council. The Coleridge Memorial Trust applied to place the statue on the south side of the parish church, at a cost of £100,000. The poet was known to have played in the church grounds as a child, and he famously referred to the ringing of the church bells in his poem Frost at Midnight.
The £130,000 operation to remove the giant fatberg from a Sidmouth sewer began. Workers using full breathing apparatus began attacking the greasy mass with pickaxes and high pressure jets.
Work began to create a new woodland in a field in Ottery St Mary. The first of 9,000 trees were planted on privately-owned land off St Saviour's Bridge.
Broadcaster Jeremy Vine agreed to become patron of the Sid Vale Talking Newspaper, and to visit its volunteers when he came to Sidmouth later in the year. Mr Vine, who has family connections in the area, said he would be privileged to help with the recorded news and information service.
A plastic Marathon wrapper was found on Sidmouth beach - 30-odd years after the chocolate bar was re-branded as Snickers. Environmental campaigners said this illustrates the need for packaging to be biodegradable.
Excitement greeted the news that the Rockfish restaurant chain was planning to take over the long-empty Drill Hall on Sidmouth seafront. The company's owner Mitch Tonks said he would refurbish the run-down building, create around 30 jobs and use locally-caught fish and other homegrown produce.
Five-year-old Brody Bray won recognition for cleaning up litter at the play area in Manstone Lane, Sidmouth. During a walk with his mother, he noticed the rubbish on the ground and ran straight home to get his litter grabber. He picked up a large bagful of crisp packets, beer cans and bottles. He was presented with a prize by Sidmouth Primary School and praised by Sidmouth Plastic Warriors.
An Ottery based business won the top national prize for the best steak pasty at the British Pie Awards. It was the second time Chunk of Devon had walked away with the 'Champion Pasty' award, having first received it in 2009.
At the end of the month, the work to remove the massive fatberg from a Sidmouth sewer was completed. A total of 36 tanker loads of greasy waste had been taken out of the sewer and transferred to a sewage treatment centre, where it was fed into the anaerobic digester, producing energy to power the plant.