Flooded cafe was ‘like the Mary Celeste’

Bob Bauld at the Red Door Cafe and Gallery. The red mark on the post shows how high the water got during the December floods
Bob Bauld at the Red Door Cafe and Gallery. The red mark on the post shows how high the water got during the December floods

The flood changed everything.

The Red Door Cafe & Gallery in Halton ended up under five feet of water when the river Lune burst its banks on December 5 2015.

The Red Door Cafe and Gallery

The Red Door Cafe and Gallery

Owners Bob Bauld and Lynn Malkin had only opened the business in Church Brow 18 months earlier, and Bob described coming down the stairs at 10.30pm that fateful night to find his beloved cafe and gallery completely submerged.

But now the cafe has finally re-opened following a refurbishment and “flood proofing” of the building.

“It had been raining and raining non stop and I’d been keeping my eye on the Lune and the beck at the side of us,” recalls Bob.

“At about 10.30am, one of my neighbours came in and said the Lune was coming round the corner. I knew we were in trouble. So we got everybody out and we could see the water coming closer.

Neil Cross Bob and Lynn at The Red Door Cafe, Halton when it opened in 2014

Neil Cross Bob and Lynn at The Red Door Cafe, Halton when it opened in 2014

“Neighbours, staff and customers started clearing stuff away upstairs, and we called the fire brigade, who came within 10 minutes but there was not a lot they could do. We turned the Aga off, opened all the doors and switched off the electricity.”

Bob said he assumed the water would rise to knee level.

“So I went upstairs and at 3.30pm we could hear freezers crashing over. By 10.30pm I couldn’t get out of Halton. It was pitch black, alarms were going off. It was like the Mary Celeste. The destruction was incredible. We were literally part of the river. I came back Monday morning and all the water had gone and it was covered in mud. It was completely trashed. The business was over, and I had no idea what was going to happen.”

Bob said that neighbours and residents in Halton have helped in the clear up, provided meals and showers, and had shown “overwhelming support”.

“People were really upset by what happened and after a lot of thought we decided to re-open. I finally got insurance in April and by that time volunteers had helped get rid of the mud. It was then a case of letting it dry out very very slowly.

“There’s a huge amount of goodwill out there, we’ve taken our time with the re-opening because we wanted to get it right. We want to thank everyone for all their help.

“We’ll be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 4pm until Christmas, and then after that for extended hours.”

Cookery demos, folk nights, and a new B&B are all part of future plans.