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Crate expectations - Pop-up shops, seaside attractions and more being made from shipping containers

PUBLISHED: 19:00 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:50 19 July 2019

Beach Street, Felixstowe - how the proposed food and retail development, incorporating shipping containers, might look at Mannings Amusements 
Picture: ROBERT ALLERTON

Beach Street, Felixstowe - how the proposed food and retail development, incorporating shipping containers, might look at Mannings Amusements Picture: ROBERT ALLERTON

Mannings Amusements

Shipping containers have seen soaring demand in Suffolk - with two major attractions planned in Felixstowe based around the boxes. Here are some unusual ways to use them.

Beach Street, Felixstowe - how the proposed food and retail development, incorporating shipping containers, might look
Picture: ROBERT ALLERTONBeach Street, Felixstowe - how the proposed food and retail development, incorporating shipping containers, might look Picture: ROBERT ALLERTON

Seaside shopping and catering

Two exciting new developments in Felixstowe are set to use converted shipping containers. They are an artisan street of pop-up shops and eating places on the south seafront, and "Beach Street", an array of shops, boutiques and cafes at Mannings Amusements.

The Beach Street scheme will mean some traditional-style fairground rides will be replaced by a range of independent retailers, boutiques, start-ups and more.

Charles Manning said after the announcement earlier this year: "There is a lot of excitement already. We have had more than 70 expressions of interest from individual businesses and entrepreneurs who want to get involved," He said the main site would remain, with the rest of the site being developed over the next two years.

MD Mark Dolman and Sales Manager Dave Stephenson of Portable Space Picture: RACHEL EDGEMD Mark Dolman and Sales Manager Dave Stephenson of Portable Space Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Read more - New shops, boutiques and cafes for Manning's Amusements

From trampolining to superheroes

Container specialist Portable Space, in Bacton near Stowmarket, supplies and modifies containers for a huge range of projects. Managing director Mark Dolman said, "Incoming enquiries have grown massively over the last two years. Containers are very versatile - I think they're a good size and very secure."

Portable Space is currently adapting containers for an 18-unit complex at a trampoline park in Newquay, while another unusual project involved donating five containers to be turned into entrances to "Superhero World" at CarFest, in aid of Children In Need. "BBC's Children In Need Appeal is a very worthy cause and we were happy to contribute by donating the converted containers, fabricating the entrances and also transporting and erecting the structures for both festival venues," Mr Dolman said.

Portable Space are adapting this shipping container into a bird viewing room for a bird sanctuary. Picture: RACHEL EDGEPortable Space are adapting this shipping container into a bird viewing room for a bird sanctuary. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Locally, Portable Space has just turned a container into an exhibition stand for Bury St Edmunds company Sealey Tools, and has created storage solutions for schools including Great Barton Primary Academy.

Fitness and yoga

Ipswich company Adaptainer carries out a large number of container conversions. One recent project involved working with F45 Training, which runs play-offs across the UK to help people achieve their health and weight loss goals.

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Adaptainer's head of conversions, Simon Riggs, said: "We supplied a converted container with the sides removed and the top strengthened that had a ladder to access the roof and a fireman's pole to come down.

"As the unit is to be moved around the UK, we supplied a railing system that could be rapidly erected and dismantled."

Another Adaptainer project involved working with Bathing under the Sky, who were looking to create an area at their PAUS retreat site in Cambridge that could be used for hosting events from yoga to painting, to provide catering space and changing rooms for the hot tubs.

Mr Riggs said: "We provided four containers that we modified so that they could be joined together to create a single space. These were delivered to a site in the middle of a field. The units were then fitted out and decking installed to provide the perfect space to relax.

Martyn Stokes at Toots Coffee. Picture: MARTYN STOKESMartyn Stokes at Toots Coffee. Picture: MARTYN STOKES

"Bathing Under the Sky are moving from their current site in August and are looking for a new location, but, because they have used containers to create their space, they will be able to take their building with them."

Catering - Serving coffee and veggie snacks

Containers have become increasingly in demand for catering. Toots Coffee opened in a converted shipping container in the car park of Sudbury rail station in April.

Owner Delenia Stokes said she chose to use a container because: "It's strong, very sturdy, has a great industrial look, and of course it's incredibly safe when it's locked up, as well as being recyclable." The stall, operated by Delenia and husband Martyn, serves coffees, teas and entirely plant-based snacks. They are now hoping to expand into other towns and cities, possibly including Cambridge and Chelmsford.

Jane Billing of Billie Box Picture: PAUL NIXONJane Billing of Billie Box Picture: PAUL NIXON

Read more - New railway station coffee shop in a shipping container

Mobile office space

Jane Billing is owner of Billie Box, based at the Base Business Park in Rendlesham, which supplies both new and secondhand containers, delivering them across England and Wales. Many are used as mobile offices, which also include either canteen units or stores.

She said: "The main things about shipping container conversions are that they are secure and lockable, stand alone, give you an extra outside room and are an extension to a business/farm or house."

Containers are cost-effective compared to paying business rents and can also easily be adapted if a business's needs change or moved if it changes location, she added.

Ipswich-based Adaptainer converted this container for use by the yoga retreat company Bathing Under the Sky. Picture: Bathing Under the SkyIpswich-based Adaptainer converted this container for use by the yoga retreat company Bathing Under the Sky. Picture: Bathing Under the Sky

There is also demand for containers to be used as chemical stores on farms, including many in Suffolk and Essex. Billie Box specialises in this area.

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