The hole in the wall

When ram raiders hit the ATM machine in Beaminster Square in August, it was like something from Hot Fuzz.

Using a stolen tractor, the would-be thieves crashed into the old property in an attempt to get at the machine. Unluckily for them, the whole wall came tumbling down on the machine and also the road.

“I can’t believe anyone would target the only cash machine in the country that never has any money in it,” said someone soon afterwards.

“Ah, but it was filled for the weekend because of Buckham Fair,” said another.

“Really?” said someone else. “I thought they always filled it up on a Monday.”

Rather like when Parnham House burnt to the ground in 2017, the rural (as opposed to urban) myths soon began. At Parnham, there were stories about firemen seeing stashes of silverware on the lawn and the arsonist concealing himself in an ancient suit of armour.

Tragically, the man suspected of starting the blaze, owner Michael Treichl, was found dead two months later in Lake Geneva. Police then said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the fire.

Town & Country ran an extensive feature on the mystery of the fire at Parnham, a story of money and power, in which a number of local people speculated on what they think really happened.

In recent years, it seems Beaminster has had its fair share of high drama.

When a landslide struck Beaminster Tunnel in 2012, no-one could have made up the awful truth that two people were trapped in a car under tonnes of soil, their bodies only to be discovered ten days later.

The tunnel was closed for a year to stabilise the adjoining land and the structure itself.  A campaign was launched to let people know that Beaminster was still open for business.

Luckily, no-one was hurt in last month’s ram raid on the ATM. It’s a miracle the lady in the flat upstairs came out of it unscathed. You can still see her sofa through the massive hole in her home.

If there was any justice in this world, the raiders would have been pinned to the scene by falling masonry instead of being able to flee the scene.

The incident has had a huge effect on this small community. The business next to the cash machine has been unable to open, the flat upstairs is out of bounds and rubble still lies in the street. There are traffic lights, loss of parking spaces and diversions, not to mention the loss of a vitally important cash machine.

The very building itself is at risk. The hole in the wall is now truly the hole in the wall.

This week, a notice went up on the fencing around the site to advise local people what’s going to happen next. It looks like it’s going to be a long, drawn-out process.

But, in the meantime, the community will pull together and all we can do is to continue to visit Beaminster and support its lovely shops and eating places.

It’s the least we can do.

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