Whaley Bridge is back open for business as life returns to town's streets

Beverly Shucker, Lindsay Hodgson and Tracey Longden from The Village Kitchen in Whaley Bridge are pleased to be open.
Beverly Shucker, Lindsay Hodgson and Tracey Longden from The Village Kitchen in Whaley Bridge are pleased to be open.

Whaley Bridge is back open for business - with people coming out in force to help breathe life back into the town following the events at Toddbrook Reservoir.

For eight days the town was silent after nearly 2,000 residents and businesses were told to evacuate while emergency work took place on the Toddbrook Reservoir dam.

Kim Stretch, Jack Bowers and Amy Mycock from Halo where Kim is offering free gents haircuts to anyone involved in the dam rescue mission.

Kim Stretch, Jack Bowers and Amy Mycock from Halo where Kim is offering free gents haircuts to anyone involved in the dam rescue mission.

But this morning - Thursday, August 8 - the streets were bustling as businesses threw open their doors to welcome shoppers back.

READ MORE: Evacuated Whaley Bridge residents return home - in pictures

Tony Gunner, licensee at the Goyt Inn, described being back as "euphoric".

He said: "We have had a horrendous few days but we are back and open.

A busy Whaley Bridge after almost a week after the evacuation of residents from the town.

A busy Whaley Bridge after almost a week after the evacuation of residents from the town.

"We opened at 5pm yesterday (Wednesday) and the atmosphere was really euphoric.

"I was hugged by so many happy people who are so pleased to be back home.

"We only stayed open until 11.30pm but the whole pub was packed as everyone came out to celebrate - it doesn't get any better than this.

"The knock-on effects on this will be felt for a very long time, but in a good way it has widened the community and brought it closer together at the same time."

Lorraine Batty, from estate agents Gascoigne Halman, said she did not think the Toddbrook Reservoir incident would impact on house prices.

Lorraine Batty, from estate agents Gascoigne Halman, said she did not think the Toddbrook Reservoir incident would impact on house prices.

The Footsteps charity shop on Market Street was the first business to be back open on Wednesday. Anne Leyland, from the shop, said: "It is wonderful to see to the town coming back to life and we were jumping for joy when we were told we could come back.

"It is such a relief to be back - I will never complain about the traffic in the town again as the traffic means the town is open for business again."

Hair stylist Kim Stretch, at Halo, has offered free gents hair cuts to anyone who was involved in saving the village.

She said: "It's so nice to be back.

Jenny and Tony Bryant from New Mills supporting the traders of Whaley Bridge

Jenny and Tony Bryant from New Mills supporting the traders of Whaley Bridge

"It was so chaotic that last Thursday. We had the heavy rain on the Wednesday and the back garden flooded and we had that to deal with, and then on the Thursday when it was looking serious we were told to evacuate, we just grabbed what we could and left as we would have been right in the firing line if the dam had collapsed.

"Being allowed back in was very emotional and I've can't stop thinking about the hard work and dedication of all the people who were out on the dam for days on end.

"I want to do my bit to say thank you, so I am offering free gent's haircuts to anyone who was up on the dam, be that mountain rescue workers or police officers and fire crews."

Jack Bowers, who is the joint salon manager with Amy Mycock, said: "People had hair appointments booked for weddings and for going on holiday and people have had to go without for their special occasions, which I know may sound sound trivial but in times of crisis people want normality and getting your hair done is a bit of normality in all the chaos.

"We are a friendly town, but this has really brought out the best in people.

"What impressed me the most was people who didn't even know at other salons were offering me space to come and work while the shop was shut, which just shows how much of an impact this has had on people from all over.

Tony Gunner from the Goyt Inn said the atmosphere in the pub was euphoric when it first re-opened

Tony Gunner from the Goyt Inn said the atmosphere in the pub was euphoric when it first re-opened

Jack lives in Horwich End and was among those asked to leave their homes. He had been making his way to his parent's house in New Mills when they started shutting the road in front of him.

He said: "That's when it hit me that something bad was happening. You set off to somewhere with a set route in your head and when that's disrupted it sends you into a panic as everything you know goes out of the window.

"It was the best news when we were told we could come back.

"Everyone has been so understanding and I will be working Sunday and Monday to help my clients out."

READ MORE: Canal and River Trust's thanks to teams and community after Toddbrook Reservoir incident

Kelly Slater not only had to leave her home but her business too, as she lives above her ladies clothes shop Klass.

She said: "I went to my mum's house when I was evacuated and we were close enough to hear the alarm siren if the dam did go. I couldn't relax as I kept thinking it would go off.

"It's only now I'm back in the shop I'm thinking what could have happened and how lucky we have been as a town. It feels like this past week has been a very weird dream and the town is just waking up.

"We have a very loyal customer base and people have already been popping in to see me now I am back open, which is lovely but that just sums up Whaley Bridge people. They look out for each other."

Sisters Tracey Longden and Beverly Shucker run The Village Kitchen and worked into the night on Wednesday after the town reopened, making sure the fridges were full of homemade tasty treats to eat for the first day of trading.

Tracey, of Jodrell Road, said: "The community spirit has been amazing. So many people have been getting in touch to see if we need any help to open, which is lovely.

"We all support each other in Whaley and it would be great to see more people come and eat and shop in the town and help us bounce back after last week."

One couple doing just that was Jenny and Tony Bryant, from New Mills, who were eating in the cafe on its re-opening day.

Jenny said: "We love Whaley Bridge and we wanted to show our support for the businesses here after everything they have been through."

Lorraine Batty, the manager at estate agents Gascoigne Halman, said: "I don't think the incident at the reservoir will put people off buying houses here or impact on house prices for those wanting to sell.

"When the work is completed it will be the safest dam in the whole country.

"One of the firefighters working on the dam had just bought a house with us and due to the closure of the town was unable to get his keys and move in, but other than that we haven't had too much disruption.

"The emergency services have been truly phenomenal through everything, as has the after-care service from the council which has kept us well informed."

READ MORE: Toddbrook Reservoir will be rebuilt once emergency phase is over

An information hub was set up at Whaley Bridge Primary School where High Peak Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council, along with other agencies such as the police, fire and rescue service and Environment Agency, were all on hand to offer advice and support for business owners and those returning home.

Amanda Brown, Derbyshire County Council's business development manager, said: "We are working with businesses to help them back on their feet after a tough week.

"Working with the D2N2 Growth Hub we are able to offer the Business Emergency Support Form where small traders can get up to £300 to help them after all they have been through."

Robert Largan, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for the High Peak, has also launched a “Support Whaley Bridge Businesses” campaign to encourage people to visit the town and support those affected by the events of the past week.

He said: “Whaley Bridge’s businesses need our support. Please do come to Whaley Bridge and support the fantastic local businesses.”

Lynn Timmis shopping at Klass on Market Street

Lynn Timmis shopping at Klass on Market Street