Dereham made a mockery of by Google

Rob GarrattNorfolk may often be accused of being behind the times, but now a crack seems to have appeared in time itself when virtually walking down one Dereham street.Rob Garratt

Norfolk may often be accused of being behind the times, but now a crack seems to have appeared in time itself when virtually walking down one Dereham street.

If you take a stroll through the town you might glimpse the Woolworths that closed down more than a year ago; a few steps later it has transformed into Poundland, turn your head for another glance and it's a Woolworths again.

At least that's what happens when you log on to Google's controversial Street View service, which went live with views of every street in the region earlier this month.

A technical glitch means with a simple click of the mouse you are transported between two alternative realities; one where Woolworths is alive and kicking, and another where it as dead as a doorknob.

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Now anyone mourning the loss of much-loved British institution Woolworths can have a walk down memory lane - thanks to the bizarre shape-shifting anomaly.

For some reason the Google team must have taken at least eight months between shots here, perhaps distracted by Dereham's multitude of attractions, such as St Withburga's Well and Dereham Windmill, which it was recently agreed to leave boarded up for the next two years.

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Google Street View allows anyone with an internet connection to traverse a 360 degree image of any road in East Anglia, all captured by a nippy black Vauxhall Astra with a camera on top.

The views of Dereham's centre switch a total of four times when heading virtually through the town. Approaching the Market Place from the south you glimpse the High Street as it has been since August last year when Poundland opened to divided opinions.

But a double click forward and the storefront suddenly morphs into a Woolworths, last seen open at the end of 2008.

Viewing the shop front it's a Poundland again, but another click north and you're back to Woolworths. Looking back from the north it becomes a Poundland once more.

This is not the first anomaly to crop up on Street View since 6,000 miles of Norfolk roads were published 10 days ago, nor is it unlikely to be the last.

A familiar traffic warden was immortalised in King's Lynn in the midst of giving a ticket, while a group outside the Hoste Arms in Burnham Market gave the photographer a wave.

Last week the Times reported how Dereham was in a timewarp of a very different kind, with the sign announcing entry into the town on the A47 still referring to its twin town R�then, in the now-defunct country of West Germany.

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