“It was like an apocalypse”

Bruce Crowther at St John's Church in Lancaster where he is setting up the Fig Tree, formally situated in Garstang
Bruce Crowther at St John's Church in Lancaster where he is setting up the Fig Tree, formally situated in Garstang

Terrible floods caused untold damage at one of the most historic buildings in Lancaster.

Rising flood waters poured through the doors of St John’s Church on North Road on Saturday, filling the boiler room and the church with water.

Director of The Fig Tree Fairtrade Visitor Centre and cafe at the church, Bruce Crowther said: “It was like an apocalypse. It was a disaster story, things could have been a lot worse, but it was pretty awful.

“I stayed late on Saturday to set up for a chocolate workshop on Monday. I couldn’t get out of Lancaster due to the flooded roads and indeed left my car under water on Caton Road.

“I decided to stay overnight and slept on the mayor’s pew to see it out.

“Water poured through the doors into the boiler room underneath the church but I didn’t realise how serious it was going to be.

“I went to sleep and woke up at 1.15am and the water was just below the level of the pews.

“There was a rippling noise and I saw the water was right next to my nose.

“The church was completely flooded and 2ft deep.

“I waded through the water outside and I couldn’t believe what I saw.

“It was apocalyptic. My daughter lives in flats on St George’s Quay so I started wading through the water but it was up to my waist.

“There were some rescue people in a dinghy from Bradford who said it wasn’t safe to wade in the water due to open manhole covers, sewage and floating hypodermic needles.

“My daughter was fine so I got the dinghy back, walked out of Lancaster and managed to get a bus to Preston.

“I got home with very squelchy shoes and probably suffering from shock.

The damage was hard to assess in the dark but most of the unique exhibits in the cabinets, shop/cafe equiptment stock is ruined and much of the wood that is so much a part of the buildings historic value is submerged along with the boiler and electrics.

“There is a layer of sediment and floorboards atre lifting off the floor.

“I’d like to think it’s the phoenix that will rise from the ashes.

“I am appealing for anyone with any space where we could sell the Fairtrade Christmas gifts that were left undamaged in the floods, we really need to raise money for the organisation.

“It was devastation but we have to remember how lucky we are.”

The church had hosted a Sustainable Development event on Saturday in conjunction with The Fig Tree Fair Trade Visitor Centre, which recently opened in the church.

The event, attended by Mayor of Lancaster Jon Barry, MP Cat Smith and North West MEP Julie Ward, was ironically about how climate change affects vulnerable people on the planet.

*If you can help The Fig Tree call Bruce Crowther on 01995 602637 or email brucecrowther300@gmail.com.