The owners of Cottam Post Office have opened up about the difficulties their shop faced following a major flood.Advertisement
Reopening temporarily from today (Thursday 11 November), at Cottam Community Centre, the Post Office will be open six days a week while refurbishment work gets underway at the shop at 93 Hoyles Lane.
On November 1, heavy rain, unfinished infrastructure and drains that failed to cope led to the fire service pumping 200,000 litres of water from the shop, an electricity substation and an attached building.
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The road closed for eight hours whilst the emergency was dealt with by three fire engines, and the police had to divert traffic and keep people away due to a possible risk to life.
Postmistress Emma Brown said: “We were contacted by our baker at 4am, when we were asleep, to say that water was entering our shop.
“By the time we got there at 5.30am to sort the papers, the water was at calf-height. There was no electricity, and it was pitch black. We had head torches to prepare the newspapers for delivery as we didn’t want to let our customers down.
“The fire chief on-site said we had to evacuate as there was a fire risk. We have continued to sort out the newspaper rounds each day by torchlight to continue supporting our loyal customers.”
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Emma is the fifth generation of her family to live in the area. She said there has never been a problem before, even during storms. An investigation is now underway to establish the causes and avoid another occurrence.
The shop at 93 Hoyles Lane, Cottam, PR4 0LB, must be fully refurbished due to extensive water damage across the entire premises. The repairs will take an estimated six months.
It was all hands on deck to salvage stock and clear up. Emma and Postmaster David praised their staff, Linda Price and Rita Lawrenson, Emma’s sister Bridget Deuchars and their son Jake and his girlfriend Cielo, who came from Newcastle to help. There have also been offers from the community.
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When Preston City Councillor Trevor Hart, who lives in the village, heard about the extent of the repairs required, the Chair of Cottam Community Centre offered the use of the centre in Haydocks Lane, Cottam, Preston, PR4 0NY.
Emma and David said they are grateful to Cllr Hart and Post Office Regional Manager Craig Perrins for their support and pulling out the stops to open a Post Office and mini-shop.
They were due to sell their business next month after 20 years of devoted community service. Their travel plans are now on hold whilst they deal with insurance claims and refurbish the premises. They then hope the planned sale will go through when the shop repairs are complete.
The new buyer is after assurances that the owners have resolved the issues that caused the flood.
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Emma said: “We took on the Post Office 20 years ago. We have built up the business, and the shop became a real emporium, selling so many different things.
“Running a Post Office and shop worked really well for David and I. We love serving the community, and it fitted in well with our lifestyle and raising our son, who is now 21. During the pandemic, it was incredibly busy as people wanted to stay local, and people were working from home.
“The work was unrelenting. We have older members of staff, so at first, they were not working. David and I worked seven days a week without a day off and with help from my sister Bridget and son Jake. The community appreciated our efforts.
“We have worked incredibly hard, and the shop is open daily, so we wanted to take semi-retirement to go travelling and then to do part-time work. Sadly, all of our plans are on hold, but we are not giving up.”
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Emma said with the shop closed, they could have said they were going to Mauritius for six months until it was ready to open, but it is not fair on the community, and that is not who they are.
They said they support the community, the community supports them, and they are pleased to open the temporary Post Office.
Craig Perrins, Post Office Regional Manager, said: “We know how important a Post Office is to a community. We have worked with Emma and David to find a temporary solution after the devastating flood whilst essential repairs are carried out.
“We are delighted to be restoring the Post Office to Cottam in time for the busy Christmas period. We sincerely thank Cllr Trevor Hart for immediately offering us space at the Cottam Community Centre.”
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There are two Post Office counters, as well as cards and gifts retail. Opening hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 8.30am – 5pm, Wednesday: 12noon – 5pm (due to the morning children’s group), and Saturday: 8.30am – 12.30pm.
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What are your thoughts on the flood damage? Let us know in the comments below