Optimism, not water, is now flowing at Walton Street

Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club.
Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club.

Sowerby Bridge CC president Tim Helliwell says his club “are on the down slope now” in their efforts to recover from the floods of Boxing Day, 2015.

Bridge were the worst hit of a handful of Spenser Wilson Halifax League clubs affected by unprecedented water levels as the Calder burst its banks.

Fourteen months on, the Walton Street pitch is green and healthy again while work is well under way on a clubhouse which had to be gutted.

Bridge played home fixtures at Stainland last season and a grim 10 months was completed on the final day of the season when their firsts unexpectedly slipped through the Premier Division trap door.

Club members have taken that last setback in their stride and Helliwell, the recently appointed league secretary, said: “Everyone is looking forward to getting back to the club and on to the field.

“We won’t have a fully functional clubhouse on April 22 when the season starts. We will have changing rooms and not much else, but by the end of May everything should be good.”

Bridge started indoor nets at the nearby Cricket Asylum this week. Anyone who has carted a heavy cricket bag up the long flight of stairs at the former mill will be aware that there is no danger of flooding there!

The captains have also been appointed with Paul Smith, Martin Mellor and Darren Chapman in charge of the three senior teams.

Helliwell is pleased with the pitch, particularly the key area in the middle.

“The square was totally ruined. Mould, slime and debris killed the grass and the square had to be dug down three inches, rebuilt and seeded,” he said.

The outfield has had new drains and Helliwell said the contractor’s job would continue until the autumn.

“The ground is fine, the square looks great and the grass growth is fantastic. If it was not totally flat before, it is now.”

Work on the clubhouse started in mid-December. There are new foundations and the old roof was taken off to raise the floor level by six feet.

Helliwell added: “There is scaffolding up and it looks dismal. But once the roof is on and secure, the inside will come on very quickly.”

Helliwell said Bridge were hugely grateful to Stainland for accommodating them but the income lost from not playing at home had been considerable.

However, the club raised more than £60,000 from post-flood events well supported by the local cricket community.

Grants from the England and Wales Cricket Board in conjunction with Sport England, plus support from Calderdale Community Foundation, Calderdale Council, local benefactors and club members is helping to finance the Walton Street work.