Storm Desmond wreaks havoc on St John the Evangelist, Lancaster

Storm Desmond swept across the North of England this week, causing the River Lune in Lancaster to burst its banks and leaving the Church of St John the Evangelist in Lancaster flooded with around 20 inches of muddy brown water. This has caused significant damage to the building, and made the FIG Tree Fairtrade Visitor Centre at the church temporarily homeless.

Though the flood waters have now receded (Pic © Richard Davis), it is likely that the electrics and heating have been detrimentally affected, and work is taking place to assess the full extent of the damage. Damage to the inside the church has effected curtains, the altar frontal, carpeting, pew kneelers and cushions, along with leaving a brown tide mark on all the pews and walls.

As the water swept through the interior, Director of The FIG Tree Fairtrade Visitor Centre Bruce Crowther kept watch from within the church overnight, telling the Lancaster Guardian afterwards:

“I decided to stay overnight and slept on the mayor’s pew...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 FIG Tree have suffered a siginficant loss of stock, as well as items of historical interest and electrical equipment. They have started a salvage process, and have begun to remove the surviving stock to an alternative location in the town, where they have also been acquiring offers of support. FIG Tree volunteers have been at the church all week, helping to clear up of ruined stock, but the fabric of the building will also need attention and architects have been on site to examine the damage.

Next week, the clean up of the fabric of the building will commence, along with airing the drying of woodwork of this important city-centre building, built in 1754-55 when the congregation of the nearby Priory church became too large. 

Lancaster Guardian - “It was like an apocalypse” - 7 December 2015