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Wednesbury church reopens after major flooding in Leabrook Road North

By Dayna Farrington | Wednesbury | News | Published:

A Wednesbury church that was damaged after 10 million litres of water swept through the street outside has finally reopened – more than a year after the devastating flood.

Ian Palfreyman, Malcolm Freeman and John Williams outside Lea Brook Methodist which has had thousands of pounds worth of refurbishments after a devastating flood last year

Water reached up to two feet high in Lea Brook Methodist Church when a digger burst a water main in Leabrook Road North, in April 2018.

But over a year on and thousands of pounds later, the 170-year-old church has finally reopened its doors after 51 weeks of major renovations.

The pipe was damaged directly outside the historic church, which suffered “devastating damage” to all areas in the flood.

Costs to repair the church were expected to top £100,000 – with members saying repair costs went well over the original estimates.

Groups that use the church, which include Slimming World, Scouts, Brownies and an over 60s club, were all forced to find different venues while the church was closed.

Ten million litres of water swept through the street outside Lea Brook Methodist Church in April 2018

Ian Palfreyman, Lea Brook Methodist Church member and pianist, said: “The flood was just such a devastating incident – I have definitely not heard of any other church that has had to deal with something like that.

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“But as a church, we were determined to carry on.

“It left church members and residents in Wednesbury incredulous, devastated. People were frustrated by what happened. People felt lost but there was that determination to carry on.

“The only things that were not really touched in the building through the flood was the windows.

“The walls had to be stripped and the floorboards in the church replaced. It was just the shell of the building left.

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“The repairs have definitely gone over £100,000.

“It was more than previously predicted but it was covered through insurance.

Thousands of pounds has been spent refurbishing the church which was forced to close after a pipe burst in April last year

“But it is such a magnificent building now and we are thrilled with how it has turned out.”

The church was able to host its first Sunday service in a year on Easter Sunday – but is now hosting re-opening events this weekend and a re-dedication of the church building tomorrow and on Sunday.

Lea Brook Methodist Church will be open between 10am and 4pm tomorrow, for residents to see the renovations, an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia of the past and present of the church, as well as refreshments.

While on Sunday, at 4pm, there will be divine worship – a service of celebration and dedication led by the church’s minister, Reverend Trevor Pratt.

Mr Palfreyman added: “Since we have been closed we have lost a lot of groups that used the building and we lost some members too.

Aerial photos showed Leabrook Road North covered in water after a digger burst through a pipe outside the church

“We had to meet in other churches and sometimes at different times. So we have been whittled down in numbers.

“Saturday will be like an open day for us – we are inviting residents to come down and look at what we have done with the building. There will also be displays about what we have going on here at the church and also about the church in years gone by.

“A lot of people say they don’t come to the church, but they know Lea Brook as a hub of the community. We have not gone down by the flood.”

Leabrook Road North was submerged in water after a Western Power Distribution digger hit the pipe on April 26, 2018, and nearby parked cars were submerged.

Church pianist Ian Palfreyman in the main church hall

A staggering 10 million litres – or the equivalent of four Olympic swimming pools – of water gushed out of the pipe and spread over roads, gardens and into houses and nearby businesses.

Emergency services pumped the water from the road into the nearby canal. Specialist water rescue teams used dinghies to navigate the road-turned-river where at least 17 cars were submerged.

Although nobody was seriously injured, one man suffered a broken wrist after falling down a hole while another stranded woman had to be rescued by the specialist water rescue teams sent to the flood.

Dayna Farrington

By Dayna Farrington
Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

Reporter for the Express & Star based at Wolverhampton.

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