Floods affect the work of Bruce Crowther and the Fig Tree (2)


In May news of Bruce Crowther, a Garstang Friend, was posted. He had persuaded residents and local businesses in the small market town to make a commitment to Fairtrade – becoming the world’s first Fairtrade Town in 2000.

st johns lancaster bruce fig tree

The FIG Tree Fairtrade Visitor Centre opened in 2011 – read a 2013 account here. In 2014, the FIG Tree Directors reluctantly decided to relocate the thriving FIG Tree Centre after being informed by Wyre Borough Council that no extension to their lease would be provided beyond November.

The Fig Tree reopened in St. John’s Church, Lancaster in February 2015, as a project working with the Churches Conservation Trust. But now we read that the local area around The FIG Tree@St John’s suffered localised flooding before Christmas.

The Lancaster Guardian reported: “Terrible floods caused untold damage to one of the most historic buildings in Lancaster.

st johns 3 lancaster

Rising flood waters poured through the doors of St John’s Church on North Road on Saturday, filling the boiler room and the church with water”.

After a Sustainable Development Event about climate change attended by Lancaster’s mayor, MP and MEP, Bruce couldn’t get out of Lancaster due to the flooded roads and left his car under water on Caton Road. He decided to stay to set up for a workshop on Monday and slept on the mayor’s pew, waking to find St John’s under a couple of feet of water: “I went to sleep and woke up at 1.15am and the water was just below the level of the pews. There was a rippling noise and I saw the water right next to my nose”.

The damage was hard to assess in the dark but parts of the unique exhibits in the cabinets, shop/cafe equipment stock were ruined and the remaining equipment has been moved and stored at the Dukes Theatre.

Much of the wood that is a part of the building’s historic value has been submerged along with the boiler and electrics.

The Churches Conservation Trust have checked the building is safe and a specialist team has moved in to clean and dry the place – a process which will take months.

In the meantime, to maintain a presence in Lancaster, the shop operated in the Cornerstone Cafe off Dalton Square and later there was a stall in St Nicholas’ Arcade.

Bruce ended by saying that they are not sure what they will do in the long term – much reflection is needed in the New Year. After selling as much stock as they could before Christmas, their takings were far greater than they would have been otherwise, but they were not insured and severe losses have been suffered.

The article in the Lancaster Guardian ended: “If you can help The Fig Tree call Bruce Crowther on 01995 602637 or email brucecrowther300@gmail.com”.


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