Fossgate begins to rebuild after the Christmas flooding

It’s not all doom and gloom on the streets of York

As we sat down on Boxing Day to embrace what was left of the festive family feuds and commence the mountain of leftover Turkey, York was getting a bit wet.

The sodden shop owners of York were given little prior warning about the impeding damp atrocities that loomed upon lifting the Foss Barrier. They were left with a city full of TV reporters patronisingly stating the floods had “not DAMPENED their community spirits”. Punny.

What the media had reported, including the One Show and ITV, was startling arial footage showing the extent of the flooding. These camera shots made York look like Venice, but instead of travelling via gondola, army men on speedboats were required. The once thriving Fossgate was now home to a series of soggy independent shops.

Splashing about down Fossgate (Photo: St Pauls Bookshop)

The negative publicity generated by the floods has diverted tourists away from York, turning it into a ghost town, despite the fact the majority of shops are drying off and are, in fact, openfor business.

The Tab went down the quaint cobbled street of Fossgate to speak to local business owners and assess the implications of such negative publicity.

The Fossgate Social

The Fossgate Social sits at the heart of this picturesque street, and was adversely affected by the floods. The café and bar had its entire cellar devastated, the ruined fridges, food and drink accumulating £5,000 worth of damage. However, instead of the hipster haven wallowing in self-pity, you can still hang out under the canopy with a Dark ‘n’ Stormy: a far cry from the Yorkshire-Venice of our TV screens.

Mike, the owner of Fossgate Social, said that when the One Show came to town to report the flooding, reporters sat in the café yet were uninterested in reporting that York was still in fact open.

(Photo: Mike Lakin)

Melrose Yard Recording Studios

Businesses have been disappointed by the actions, or rather in-action, of the local government. Things at Melrose Yard Recording Studios are not going swimmingly: they lost a number of expensive microphones, guitar amplifiers and drums. The owner of the studio, Sam, feels incredibly let down.

Sam told The Tab: “We’re very angry we weren’t given more notice of the decision to raise the flood barrier which resulted in the flooding of our property and six hundred others.

“We were unable to obtain any sandbags from the council due to the huge demand and if we had received some we would have had more time to save equipment.”

(Photo: Melrose Road Studio)


Many of Fossgate’s restaurants have remained closed for health and safety reasons, with the tenants in many cases blocked from returning to trading by their landlords. Consequently, many restaurants have notices on the door which say they’re closed indefinitely.

Rather a sorry sight

It’s important to remember though that the majority of businesses in York remain open so you can return and support them. The small independent businesses of Fossgate need your support more than ever to survive. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the remains of your student loan (or probably overdraft since Christmas), and make it rain in Fossgate.