Historic Old Courthouse in Cumbria Collapses into River Cocker.
Environment Agency Confirms Flood Defenses Intact, No Increased Flood Risk.
Cocker Bridge Closed as Precaution, Assessments Underway
The rear section of a historic structure located in Cumbria has collapsed into the River Cocker. The building in question is the Old Courthouse, a Grade II-listed property situated along the river.
This incident occurred at approximately 05:00 BST.
The Environment Agency has stated that although the collapse took place near their flood walls, these defenses are still intact, and the town’s flood risk has not increased as a result of this event.
Cumberland Council has reported no injuries at this time, but as a precautionary measure, Cocker Bridge has been closed while assessments are being conducted. Despite some debris entering the river due to the collapse, the river’s flow remains unimpeded.
The Environment Agency is collaborating with the council to minimize any potential environmental consequences stemming from this incident.
A police cordon has been established, closing off the road leading from Main Street to Market Square, including Cocker Bridge.
The Old Courthouse, a building with a history of approximately 190 years, was previously home to The Honest Lawyer restaurant and was sold at auction in 2022. In 2021, the site was evacuated due to heavy rainfall, which had left its rear wall on the brink of collapse. Since then, the building has not been in use.
Brian Mitchelhill, who chairs the Cockermouth Emergency Response Group, has informed BBC Look North that the building had been considered “at risk” for several months leading up to this incident.
“We didn’t quite expect this to happen and, sadly, it has come to this,” he said.
“It is strange to see that part of it is crumbling away and it may never be restored to its former glory to be quite honest. We are not going to write it off just now.”
Cockermouth’s mayor, Julie Laidlow, told BBC Radio Cumbria she hoped the front of the “iconic” building could be preserved.
“Quite a lot of the back part of the building has fallen into the river,” she said.
“There is a section of the roof that the first high winds are going to take away.
“The bridge is going to be closed for the foreseeable until further investigations are done.”
She mentioned that she had communicated with the owner of the building, who was en route to the location and described him as deeply saddened by the situation.
“I spoke to him this morning and he was in tears,” she said.
“The safety of the public is his paramount importance. Everyone is just going to have to work together and do what we can.”
Individuals are urged to steer clear of the vicinity and adhere to any established detours. A representative from Cumberland Council stated that they are collaborating with emergency services and other relevant parties to evaluate the extent of the damage and promptly implement measures to ensure the safety of the public.
“The Old Courthouse is an iconic building in Cockermouth and we share residents’ sadness following the recent partial collapse of the building.
“This is a privately owned building and has been an ongoing issue. We continue to work with the owner of the property and partners.”
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