You have 2 more free articles remaining

Antiques dealers in the Cotswolds were among the many small businesses hit by the July floods which brought devastation across the Severn and Thames Valleys.

The small Gloucestershire market town of Moreton-in-Marsh suffered a major flash flood on the afternoon of Friday July 20 and was among the worst affected.

David Glaisyer of House Fine Art, said up to four and a half feet of water had penetrated their gallery on the High Street in Moreton destroying his stock of 19th, 20th and 21st century British art. Two fire engines, stuck in the street, had been unable to help pump water away but Mr Glaisyer retained his sense of humour. “Business had been very buoyant,” he said.

BADA clock dealer Jeff Formby (of Jeffrey Formby Antiques) measured 32in (81cm) of water in his shop on East Street – and more in the family home opposite – at the high water mark at about 10pm.

Fortunately he was able to move his stock, with the exception of one large item, before water entered the gallery and saved most of the horological books and periodicals, another stock in trade, as the water levels rose. The water had largely subsided by Saturday morning.

Last week the shop was closed but Mr Formby was keen to emphasise his computer was up and running and he was open for business.

Situated above the watermark in Whitney, Oxfordshire dealer David Harvey of W.R. Harvey was lucky to have escaped the worst effects of the 7in (18cm) deluge that caused the Windrush to burst its banks around 2pm on Saturday.

However, in his role as councillor David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Environment of West Oxfordshire District Council, he was heavily involved in the emergency effort. His tasks ranged from filling sandbags (in total 50,000, representing 500 tons of sand were used to firm defences in the town) to spending three hours with Environment Secretary Hilary Benn as he surveyed the damage. A massive clear-up operation is also likely to require Mr Harvey to focus more on what he calls his part-time job.

In Chipping Campden – where a five-day fair at the town hall was cancelled as the building was commandeered for evacuees – one of the worst affected dealers was Draycott Books, in Sheep Street, who have lost 1000 volumes to the fast-flowing river. “We’re waiting for the insurance valuers but it will cost £10,000 to £12,000 for us to re-open,” said owner Bob McClement. “I have lived here for 17 years and we have never had any floods. It’s been a terrible shock.”

Gloucester itself was one of the worst hit areas – 43,000 were evacuated when water overwhelmed the city on July 20 – but the docklands antiques centre, with the Sharpness Canal on one side and the River Severn on the other, had a miraculous escape.

One of the centre’s directors Raine Thurston said: “We weren’t flooded but it was a very close thing. The police cleared the docks and we had no running water until July 31.

“Many of the centre’s employees were evacuated from their homes and, as the centre was closed, the only way I kept in touch was by posting news bulletins on our website.”

Around 20 salerooms located in flood blackspots had scheduled sales and – although it was occasionally necessary to pump out water from cellars and ship in sandbags (at Mallams sale of July 25 some staff wore wellington boots) – all appear to have gone ahead as planned, albeit with reduced attendences.

The aftermath certainly promises to be a very busy time for specialist art insurers and appraisers – some of whom had taken the opportunity to issue business-chasing press releases only days after the deluge. The mass of insurance claims following the late June floods in South Yorkshire have already seen plenty of business for local valuers sent to appraise flood damaged art and antiques.