Ribble Valley village on flood alert - again

It was a question of watching and waiting in the Ribble Valley village of Ribchester today to see if and when the River Ribble and its tributary streams might rise and burst their banks.

Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 4:51 pm
These flood defences off Greenside in Ribchester were installed by the Environment Agency on Monday evening

They have been there before. The village flooded on Boxing Day 2015 and again in February last year.

Unlike in the floods which hit last February this time the Environment Agency was out early and got flood defences up on Greenside in Ribchester on Monday evening.

It is expected the barriers on one of Ribchester’s most flood hit streets will remain up for some days.

New floodgate installed on the main entrance of the Ribchester Arms

For that Greenside resident Val Ludbrook is thankful. She said: “All I can say is we’re very grateful for the barriers they’ve brought. We’re quite convinced we wouldn’t have got flooded last time, (February 9, 2020), if they had brought the barriers.”

Further down Greenside resident retired joiner Brian Woodward, whose property escapes flooding, believes increases in property building add to flood problems overall, but he welcomed the defences, while pointing out that not every property is protected by them.

Another long time Ribchester resident David Procter maintains that radical work is needed to prevent flooding in future years - to divert the loop of the River Ribble near the local St Wilfrid's CE primary school and to dredge local streams. He said: “I think it (flooding) is happening more frequently...I think drastic work needs to be done and tributaries need dredging. I think the river needs redirecting away from the school because in 50 years time I don’t think the school will be there. I think it will fall into the river.”

The Ribchester Arms was badly hit in the Boxing Day floods of 2015 and had a full refurbishment. It flooded again in February last year. This time licensee Liam Fairey is hoping to escape the worst explaining: “I’ve been putting all the barriers up. We had them installed just before Christmas - it’s good timing!”

Mr Brian Woodward pictured by the flood defences installed on Greenside, Ribchester

He said Robinson’s brewery had financed the floodgates for every window and door and he was hopeful the property would be protected.

Nevertheless he said he was keeping a close eye on rising waters, He said: “We’ve two big barriers at the back - we’re going to try and keep the back completely dry if we can. Robinson’s brewery have been really good with us.“

He said he would be on guard about an hour after high tide - when the impact of the sheer volume of water in the River Ribble would also be felt in Ribchester.

But at the end of the day he was stoical about the flooding risk: “We’re the bottom of the flood plain. As beautiful as the surroundings are we have to put up with the fact we are at the bottom of the valley. Water is only going to come in one direction .. .short of putting the building on stilts there is nothing we can do.”

Rising waters of the River Ribble, pictured on Tuesday morning

Lancashire County Council workmen were out checking a road drain opposite the Ribchester Arms on Tuesday morning . Maintenance worker Stephen Howarth said he and his colleague were doing what they could to help Ribble Valley residents and he would be advising the gulley cleaners that they needed to attend the site.

Before noon on Tuesday part of Ribblesdale Road by the bridge had flooded and some residents had already got their flood gates up. Much of this historic village, near Longridge, escapes flooding with three locations - Greenside, Ribblesdale Road and Stydd Lane, most at risk when the waters rise.

*The Government's Flood Warning Information Service has advised local residents to be on alert for floods. It issued a statement earlir today advising: "Flooding of property/roads and farmland is expected to begin between 17:00 today 19/01/21 and tomorrow, 20/01/21 affecting low lying land in Settle, Barnoldswick, Bolton by Bowland, Sawley, Clitheroe, Slaidburn, Dunsop Bridge, Chipping and Ribchester."

It continued: "High river levels are possible on the Rivers Ribble and Hodder, Stock Beck, River Loud, Mearley Brook, Pimlico Brook and their tributaries. Further rainfall is forecast over the next 36 hours. We expect river levels to remain high until Thursday evening 20/01/21. We are closely monitoring the situation. Our incident response staff are clearing weed screens and checking defences. Please avoid using low lying footpaths near rivers and avoid contact with flood water."

Ribchester resident David Procter says streams need dredging and a bend in the river needs diverting to help prevent future flooding

Its statement said advice would be updated tomorrow morning, 20/01/21, or as the situation changes - see here** The Lancashire Post is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here

Liam Fairey, licensee of the Ribchester Arms, hopes the pub and restaurant's new flood defences will safeguard the popular venue