A flood-hit pub engulfed three times last winter has re-opened after five months – and a near £1 million refit.
The Ship Inn at Steanard Lane, Mirfield, shut in mid-December after the nearby River Calder burst its banks.
The stricken pub was left under water and Christmas dinner for 140 people had to be cancelled. The pub has been flooded many times down the years.
Now the pub’s owners, brewery giant Greene King, has invested heavily in flood defence measures to minimise damage in the future.
Flood gates – brown plastic fencing – have been installed at the front of the pub and the underground area has been tanked and lined with bitumen.
Fixtures and fittings – including the bar – are plastic-based and electric sockets and cabling have been moved halfway up the walls. Radiator pipework and the height of windows have also been raised.
Manager Nick Bush said the pub had been flooded three times in November and December.
It was already closed when the worst flood struck on Boxing Day, leaving the pub four-and-a-half feet under water.
Mr Bush said the company, part of the Hungry Horse family pub chain, had invested “approaching six figures” in the revamp.
Much of the work involved ensuring last year’s devastation wouldn’t be repeated even if the worst happened again.
The flood gates are driven a metre and a half underground and can be closed off to form a barrier.
Mr Bush said the pub was never at risk of not being re-opened but the length of the closure had been mainly due to the need for the walls to dry out.
New fixtures and fittings are easily replaceable and Mr Bush added: “If we are flooded again the idea is that we’ll only be closed for five weeks not five months.”
About a dozen of the original staff remain with another 35-40 coming in.
The pub had a ‘soft’ opening with sessions on Wednesday and Thursday but the official opening was carried out on Friday morning by Mirfield charity fundraiser Derek Highe and Huddersfield Town legend Andy Booth.
Derek, 58, lights up his home in Robin Royd Avenue every Christmas and has raised £32,000 for Kirkwood Hospice and other good causes.
VIDEO: Derek Highe officially reopens the Ship Inn, Mirfield
The dad-of-two is also a veteran of Town’s Pedal for Pounds bike rides and takes part again this year.
Derek was asked to open the pub after his name was put forward by customers.
The pub has donated £250 to Derek’s nominated charity Town’s Keep It Up Campaign, which raises money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the club’s youth academy.
It was a double success after Derek’s Christmas lights were voted ‘best attraction’ at last week’s My Mirfield annual awards.
“I never did this for any recognition,” said Derek. “It’s great that the lights mean so much to people.”
Derek is adding an extra 65 miles to next month’s Shankly Tour Pedal for Pounds 7 ride. He will set off from Newcastle before joining the 225-mile Carlisle to Huddersfield trek.