The Museum of Witchcraft was among the many buildings in Boscastle to be severely damaged by last year's flood. Photo: John Hooper.
Back in August 2004 when floods ripped through the Cornish coastal village of Boscastle it was much to the nation’s relief that no lives were lost.
Yet the cost to the village’s residents was great, as houses, businesses and cars were washed away. Among the casualties that seemed to have been destroyed was Boscastle’s famous Museum of Witchcraft.
However, despite severe damage and following a massive clean up operation, staff at the world’s largest collection of witchcraft-related artefacts plan to reopen the doors to the public on Friday March 25, 2005.
Incredibly no lives were lost as flash floods swept through the village. Photo: John Hooper.
"It’s a miracle" enthused owner Graham King. "At first the museum looked like a disaster zone with display cases smashed by the force of the water. Internal walls were demolished and doors had been ripped of their hinges."
Housing the world’s largest collection of artefacts and regalia associated with witchcraft, the museum has been welcoming visitors to its Boscastle premises since 1960 and aims to offer an impartial overview of this controversial subject.
Following the devastation of August 16 it looked as if the institution and its vast collection might be lost.
Joan, one of thousands of museum objects to have been recovered after the flood. Photo: John Hooper.
But despite the damage, thousands of irreplaceable artefacts were salvaged including resident waxwork witch Joan. Firemen entering the building right after the flood had a bit of a fright when they came across her lying in mud.
With the help of the museum team and scores of volunteers Graham King has worked tirelessly ever since to rid the museum of hundreds of tons of sewage, mud and silt.
After the great clean up local builders, carpenters and electricians were employed and building work to reconstruct the home of this unique collection began. Now it seems the work is finally complete and the museum is ready to reopen.
Museum owner Graham King's quick reactions have been honoured with the Chief Coastguards' Commendation. Photo: John Hooper.
For Graham King, there is double cause for celebration this week: it was announced on March 21 that following his quick reactions on the day of the flood he will be honoured with the Chief Coastguards’ Commendation.
A volunteer with the Boscastle Coastguard rescue team, Graham was in the village on August 16 as a freak summer storm caused flooding. Noticing it worsen he immediately alerted the Coastguard Rescue Coordination Centre in Falmouth.
Military helicopters were scrambled to the scene ensuring that no lives were lost as around 80 people were airlifted to safety, despite an eight metre high (nine feet) wall of water crashing through the village.