Flooded pub bounces back

Sam Hall and Sharon Thompson.
Sam Hall and Sharon Thompson.

It was December 11 last year when The Navigation Inn became submerged in water, hit by the heavy rain of Storm Desmond.

Landladies Sam Hall and Sharon Thompson were left with no choice but to shut their livelihood, thankful that the nearby overflowing River Calder had not also flooded their home above the pub.

Flooding at The Navigation Pub, Christmas 2015. Lee Ward @ Law Photography

Flooding at The Navigation Pub, Christmas 2015. Lee Ward @ Law Photography

It was an all too familiar site for the pair, who have dealt with flooding at their Broad Cut Road alehouse on three other occasions during the past decade.

But little did they realise more misery and devastation was on the way. The pub was struck by the worst bout of flooding the women had ever experienced with the arrival of Storm Eva on Boxing Day.

Recalling the day, Miss Hall said: “The water was higher than it has ever been before. It ran through the pub, the cellar, the kitchens, the bottom bar and just wiped out everything.

“The pub was absolutely marooned back and front. Outside, the benches had been carried up the river and dumped on the banks.

“It was unbelievable. The mess, the smell, it was just a scene of utter devastation.

“There was sludge everywhere, a stench of stale water and mould began to grow.”

The duo faced a major clear up operation, spanning seven months with the support of the Environment Agency, Wakefield Council, pub operator Punch, their insurance company and the local community.

Miss Hall, 42, said: “At first we were just numb, Every time we went downstairs, we were just like ‘we can’t believe this’.

“We stripped out everything into skips in the garden. It took 19 skips to clear it all out.

“It was only after two months that we managed to finally drain all the water out the cellar.

“We were shut from early December right through to the end of July so it took us nearly seven months before we were ready to reopen again.

“All that time we went without our wages and without our customers.

“That was the most frustrating thing. We get a lot of people coming in after walking or cycling by the canal, especially during the summer, and even then we were still having to turn people away because we weren’t quite ready.”

By the time The Navigation reopened on July 28, it had undergone a full refurbishment, with a new kitchen, cellar, bathrooms and outdoor veranda.

And staff are still working hard to spread the message it is open for business.

It relaunched with a celebration night including a champagne reception, dishes from its new menu and musical performances.

And in the past few months, it has hosted a Halloween night and its annual Swampfest music festival which raised funds for The Amy Winehouse Foundation to help youngsters with drug and alcohol issues.

Now, a year on from the floods and back on their feet, the women are looking to the future. They have taken several function bookings for 2017 and have more events in the pipeline.

Miss Hall, who has run the pub for 15 years, said: “We do worry we might flood again but we have carried out extra flood defence work and have used materials that will make the clear up easier if it does happen.

“And the pub looks absolutely stunning now it has been redone. It’s pleasing to see how far we have come and people have been really great in supporting us.”