SADNESS, anger and determination to start again are the emotions running through Robert Downie, the owner of a books business whose stock was destroyed in the Wem Business Park fire.

Cosmo Books Antiquarian Articles & Journals confirmed that around 170,000 items of stock were lost in the deliberate fire, which happened in the early hours of Wednesday, October 5.

Mr Downie admits that despite the anger and sadness towards the culprits, with Shropshire Fire and Rescue confirming it was the work of arsonists, he aims to start over again to replicate the four decades of work already undertaken.

"It makes me very angry that somebody did this," said Mr Downie, whose business has been at the park for more than 20 years.

"Somebody just thinking that 'I’ll set fire to this' and has destroyed my business and more or less my life’s work, so I’m quite angry about it in that regard.

"But also alongside the anger, there’s a lot of determination to come back and not let them defeat me.

"I don’t know how people can help us; there are some empty offices for us on the same site to take over on a temporary basis which will give me the incentive to go to work to pull things together.

"I have no idea what I’m going to do in that regard, what type of stock I want and where to source it, and it’s all a bit of blur.

"I think it’s important people who do know the destruction that has happened as there aren’t many booksellers in the world anyway, and very few who do what we do.

"Decades of work has gone into building up that stock and my assistant said to me last night that if the insurance company gave me a million pounds to put that back, it’s not just about that.

"It’s about time, and the curious things that we had and would take years as you can’t pop down to the wholesaler and order a new pallet load.

"I just want to thank the firefighters who worked so hard to save other businesses on the park.

"They have saved so many jobs for people."

Mr Downie said the stock was 'unsalvageable' and explained the loss of the journals to the wider book world.

And he described his emotions on seeing the state of the business park as he made his way there following phone calls confirming the fire.

He said: "You can see from the pictures from the inside of the warehouse taken by the fire service and you can see the books are still glowing from the embers of the fire.

"We’re a specialist in 18th and 19th century journals and periodicals which people mostly think of as books.

"Some things were incredibly rare and I doubt I will ever see any copies of them again; these things do exist in libraries but it’s a real loss to the buying public.

"When I first drove down the roads were blocked off, the fire engines everywhere, and you see the water flying out of the equipment, dampening down the roof, smoke billowing like Dante’s Inferno, it’s hard to find the words for it.

"But you just feel cold and that weird thing of being shocked."