Learning from experience and looking to the future

Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society chairman David Winslow at the Hippodrome Theatre
Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society chairman David Winslow at the Hippodrome Theatre

Many of the premises hit by the Boxing Day floods in Todmorden were homes - but businesses and places of recreation were flooded too.

Todmorden’s biggest store, The Factory Shop on Halifax Road, is being refitted while one of its near neighbours, one the town’s most iconic places, the Hippodrome Theatre is also beginning the long road back to recovery.

Dating back to the Edwardian era, it is owned and run by volunteers from Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (TAODS).

The theatre has been badly flooded before, and once again society members are looking for new ways of coping with a deluge should it happen again in the future.

On Boxing Day every part of the ground floor, including all the stalls seating, was damaged by flood water and in the dressing rooms the water was more than four feet deep.

The theatre will be closed for a number of months while repair and refurbishment work is carried out.

Society chairman, David Winslow, said: “We are covered by insurance, but it will set us back about six months of earnings. We’re really hoping to be back in business by June, or earlier in the springtime. It’s the fourth time it’s happened, but 2000 and 2006 weren’t as bad.

“It has affected a lot of the stuff we have built up over the years and we will be looking at how we can reduce the risk of flooding in the future. For example, we will be looking at premium quality theatre seats which are removable.” Some of the electrics are now working in the building and the boiler is back in action, so the process of drying out the building can continue.

Others who have been flooded in the past include some of Todmorden’s pubs where regulars helped muck in to get them running within a couple of days of the disaster, and in time to celebrate on New Year’s Eve, having also learned how to be resilient from bad experiences with flooding in the past.

Jack’s House pub, at Burnley Road, was one of a number of pubs including the Golden Lion, Fielden Square, the Royal George, Rochdale Road, and the Weavers Arms, Blind Lane, which managed to reopen shortly after the deluge swept through the town.

Landlady Sue Landale said she was more prepared after the pub was affected by the 2012 floods, but thanked all the people who helped get the doors open again.

She said: “The customers were great last time and they were this time. On the Sunday morning lots of customers came to help us clean up.

“We were open by Monday teatime, although there were some things missing. The kitchen is still not open, but we’re hoping it will be open by February.

“Since 2012, we have made preparations for flooding,for example we have seats which lift out.”