Man’s barn escape after flash flooding

Andrew Cross and his mother, Sheila Cross observe flood damage at Trees Farm in Westhouse, where the slate flooring above a culvert on a beck flowing underneath an ancient barn, collapsed.
Andrew Cross and his mother, Sheila Cross observe flood damage at Trees Farm in Westhouse, where the slate flooring above a culvert on a beck flowing underneath an ancient barn, collapsed.
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A TOOLBOX helped to save a man’s life as flooding hit the Ingleton area earlier this week.

Andrew Cross, 31, had gone into a barn at Trees Farm in Low Westhouse to rescue border collie Jed after heavy rain at around 5.30pm on Monday evening caused flooding from a beck.

But old flagstone flooring, under which the beck is culverted, collapsed as he entered, and Andrew only stopped himself from being washed under by grabbing on to a heavy toolbox, which was on the floor.

His mum Sheila Cross, 57, who runs the sheep farm with her husband Tommy, said: “The culvert runs under the road outside our farm, but a neighbour rang to say the water was coming over the road.

“Andrew and I went down to the farmyard where the water was two or three feet high, and our concern was to get the dog out of the barn.

“He went in but then I heard him screaming, and all I could see where his arms holding on to this toolbox and his head.

“The floor has probably been there for hundreds of years, but it had just collapsed under him. He was still up to his neck in the water and he is 6ft 3ins, but he managed to pull himself up.

“If he hadn’t held on to that toolbox and his foot hadn’t been trapped by a flagstone, he would have been dead.

“But he just bruised his foot and was in shock.”

After pulling himself out, Andrew, a computer technician, smashed down another barn door to rescue Jed.

Sheila said that although the barn was used mainly for storage, and the main farmhouse was not affected, the cost of the damage could still run into tens of thousands of pounds.

One of the internal walls collapsed and she fears a new roof, installed at Easter after strong winds blew the old one off, may have to be replaced.

Insurers were due to visit the site as the Lancaster Guardian went to press.

“We had a bad do last August, but I’ve never seen flooding this bad,” said Sheila.

Floodwater also entered Ellerbeck Lodge, the home of Colin Elsdon and his tenant Andrew Mitton, the other side of the A65 on Westgate Lane.

Andrew, 55, who works at Seasons bakery in Ingleton, said: “My neighbour came down and said she thought the beck was bursting its banks.

“Within seconds, it was in the house.

“We put towels against the doors, but within minutes the kitchen, dining room, office and lounge had been flooded and the water was halfway up my calves.”

Bentham firefighters pumped water out of the house and Colin, 75, who use to run the Marton Arms, in Thornton-in-Lonsdale, praised the crew and around 10 Ingleton villagers who helped with the clean up.

He added: “All the carpet was ruined but we moved most of the furniture upstairs.

“The same thing happened a year ago, but it was worse this time, and could cost up to £1,400.”

Firefighters were also called to Ingleborough Park Close, Ingleton, just after 6pm.

The water had not reached properties but was affecting the areas outside.

At 6.38pm, a fire crew also attended a property in Backgate, Ingleton, where the ground floor had been under around 12 inches of water.

At 7.13pm, Clapham Cave Rescue were called to Tatham Wife Hole on the side of Ingleborough, when a party of cavers was reported overdue.

The first cave rescue team found the entrance to the cave impassable due to flooding.

As water levels fell, the team was able to enter the cave and found four cavers – two men aged 48 and 32, and two women aged 29 and 28 – sheltering in the first chamber.

They were hauled out to the surface and accompanied down to the road at the Ingleton Granite Quarries.