Business owners near Milton Keynes persevering a year on from devastating fire

Big plans have been announced as the family-ran business continues to fight back from the life changing impact last year's fire caused.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 1:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 1:12 pm

On May 25 2020, brothers Jonathan and Julian Chalmers lost everything except the possessions on them, after their business was engulfed by a devastating fire.

This 4am fire on the A5 near Old Stratford, could not be contained and saw the end to their family home and original shop, as it burned throughout the day.

The pair own Hobby Fish, which specialises in providing tropical fish and aquatic items.

Hobby Fish

Julian who was staying away for the night lost everything except the possessions on him. Jonathan was left in trainers, shorts and a tie dye T-shirt, resembling John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson in the final minutes of Pulp Fiction.

The business has remained open despite the game-changing fire. Jonathan and Julian are currently trading in a temporary shop on the parking site in Old Stratford, selling tropical fish and aquarium plants, among other products designed for pond and aquarium maintenance.

Impressively, planning permission has been requested for a new centre and living accommodation, a significant step after last year's devastation.

The brothers were overwhelmed with the kindness and response of those around them. They've been able to carry on with a business, created by their father over 40 years ago.

last year's fire

A business spokesperson released the following statement in the days after the fire last year: "We have been taken aback with the overwhelming response and kind words we have received since Monday when a fire devastated our store and family home.

"We were blown away by the fire services reaction, dedication and compassion they showed during this very difficult time. The focus throughout was on the livestock saving as many as possible under the incredibly difficult circumstances."

Authorities determined that the fire was started by faulty electrics. Jonathan was alerted to the blaze by his cat Bill patting him on the face. From there the brothers teamed up with Bucks Fire and Rescue Service firefighters to save fish and a variety of reptiles from one of the buildings.

Throughout the pandemic the brothers have worked with an insurance company, architects and engineers, and Milton Keynes Council to plan and prepare to rebuild the aquatic centre.

Caravans have been placed on the site to maintain security and building companies have been contacted if planning goes ahead.

The brothers hope to soon have a new centre, which would mark a substantial achievement in their attempts to get back to some form of normality.