Traders in Weymouth town centre are resigned to the ongoing major water works on St Thomas Street, which are set to be completed at the beginning of next month.

Wessex Water is carrying out the works to replace old and deteriorating pipes in order to anticipate blockages and improve water quality.

The works stretch along the middle of St Thomas Street from the junction with St Edmund Street to the junction with New Bond Street, and while local traders concurred that footfall had been low since the works began, they were also understanding of the necessity, and the timing, of the works.

Neil Fisher, owner of St Thomas Street locksmiths Cobble Keys 'n' Tees, said his shop had been exceptionally quiet since the works began at the start of the year.

"We used to run a shop, now we run a graveyard," said Mr Fisher, of Portland. "The signage has been quite bad - the signs say 'road closed' but don't say 'businesses open as usual'". He declined to pin all the blame on the works, however.

"I'm grateful they're doing this now, rather than in summer.

"It's hard to blame the works alone; it's inconvenient, but then roadworks always are."

Other traders agreed.

"They've go to do it, so we just work round it, " said Rebecca Carter, 29, of stuffed-toy emporium The Bear Shop, which after two years on St Thomas Street is gearing up for a short move away to St Alban Street. "It's been quiet, but then that's probably because of the time of the year," added Ms Carter, also of Portland.

Her father was even more sanguine, pointing to an unexpected benefit of the works.

"It's good not having the buses and cards coming down here," he noted. "It should be pedestrianised - they've done it in Dorchester, so why not here?"

Next door, Fresh Bites Sandwich Bar owner Aimee Smith said that while the waterworks had at times been noisy, she hadn't noticed any particular detriment to her business.

"We've only been here since October, so we can't really compare with last year," said the 20-year-old, whose father runs a similar business in Wyke Regis.

When the works were announced at the end of December, one of the main concerns raised was that taxi drivers would be hit hard by the loss of access to St Thomas Street. But private hire driver Ben Pamphilon said he had seen 'no particular drop in fares'.

"It may have been harder for the hackneys," he said, referring to cabs that ply for hire, and whose drivers are usually self-employed.

"We get a lot of fares from elderly people going down to Tesco [on St Thomas Street] and now we have to go round the back."

Mr Pamphilon, 36, added that the works were far less inconvenient than the roadworks that have for several weeks caused serious congestion on the Portland Beach Road and into Wyke Regis.

His comments were echoed by florist Fiona Penny, who called the St Thomas Street works 'a pain' in terms of deliveries, but noted that the Portland Beach Road works were a much greater inconvenience in that regard.

"We do a lot of deliveries, and are preparing for even more with Valentine's Day next week," said the Upwey resident and owner of the long-standing florists Fiona Penny at Sunflowers. "But we can't complain. They've been working well.

"We did have an issue with the barriers they put up because people couldn't get by on either side, but they got taken down pretty promptly."

Wessex Water, meanwhile, thanked traders for their patience.

"Our work to replace water mains from the junction with New Bond Street to St Edmund Street is progressing well and we’re on track to complete the works by Friday 2 March," a spokesman said.

"Our staff are working extended hours to complete the work as quickly as possible.

"We would like to thank residents and businesses for their cooperation and apologise for any disruption caused by this essential work."