Dales pub owner glad to reopen after devastating flood

Rowena Hutchinson behind the bar at the Red Lion.

The landlady of a Dales pub says she is glad to be open again after she was washed out in the flooding last summer.

Flash flooding on July 30 last year left a 5ft deep river of water flowing through the Red Lion at Langthwaite.

Landlady Rowena Hutchinson, 75, was lucky to escape with her life after being knocked off her feet by the force of the water.

But after five months of hard work from her and sister Marguerita, the pub reopened just before Christmas.

Rowena had gone to the front door of the pub because a little water had come into the bar when she was hit from behind by flood water which had come through a back doors.

It knocked her off her feet and was so powerful that the landlady believes it would have carried her into the swollen beck had the force of the water not slammed shut the front door.

Inside the Red Lion after the July floods. Photo: Guy Carpenter.

The water then smashed through another door and flowed out of the pub, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

Furniture blocked the exits and Rowena had to be rescued by firefighters who smashed their way in.

Five months on and the pub has reopened, although there is still much work to be done, with Red Lion not yet serving food.

Rowena said she had been thankful for the support she received from the local community and further afield.

“People have written letters and sent emails from all over the country,” she said.

“Locals wanted to get in to help but of course couldn’t because of the insurance company.

“It’s been really hard work and I don’t think I could do it again if it happened in the future.”

The water which flooded through the pub was classed as ‘black’ by the insurance company because it was contaminated.

This meant the insurers required much of the contents of the pub to be scrapped.

As well as stock, glasses, appliances and furniture, Rowena also lost personal possessions which can never be replaced.

She did manage to save a few items however, including the original Gaskell & Chambers pub tables, which she refused to let the insurers remove.

She said the process had been very slow and it was ironic that some residents in the village whose homes were flooded, but did not have insurance, were back in within a few weeks.

Rowena said she was glad to be back open again and for life to be slowly getting back to normal.

One sign of this is the return of the Red Lion’s women’s darts team which will have their first home game this week after months of playing their games at the Punch Bowl in Low Row while the Red Lion was closed.