Owner of flood-hit antiques centre renews calls for River Rother to be dredged
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Sofia Brown says her family has been pushing for the river to be cleaned out since the 90s – suffering two floods in 2007 and 2019 before the latest on October 20.
Mum-of-one Sofia, 38, estimates around seven feet of silt has accumulated in the water near her family-run business, Olympia House Antiques Centre.
She believes having it dredged would lower the water level significantly – allowing boats to pass under the arches of the nearby bridge on Brimington Road.
She said: “If they had dredged it in the 90s we wouldn’t have had the floods of 2007, 2019 and now 2023.
"The silt is so high there’s a shopping trolley which has been in the river for years which has completely disappeared now – it’s buried.”
On October 20 at around 11am water began gushing into the antiques centre, swamping its cafe.
Within half-an-hour Sofia and others were forced to abandon trying to save fridges, freezers and food and evacuate.
She said: “I’d got up on a piece of furniture and just as a jumped off it, it was washed away.”
By the time floodwater peaked at around 11pm. the ground floor was under seven feet of water. Sofia’s flood insurance covers her for up to 40 per cent of the cost, leaving her with a bill of around £15,000 in terms of damages and lost stock. Olympia House Antiques Centre started trading around 10 years ago.
The building was previously owned by Sofia’s grandfather and former Coalite worker Abdul Latif – who launched his business Latif Textiles from there after being made redundant.
She said: “I’m lucky really because it’s just my business affected and I have a home to go back to, not like some of our neighbours. But my life has been spent in that building – we’re like a family in there and everyone is heartbroken, it’s made everyone cry.”
Since the floods Sofia has been working with her antiques traders – who she describes as “the best set of people” - to clear debris from the building.
She hopes to reopen within two months, adding “we’ll get it fixed and running again”.