Finbar, 83, is back in business after Camden Passage flood
‘No matter what disasters you face, you carry on,’ says antiques trader who lost £100,000 stock
16 June, 2017 — By Koos Couvée
Antiques trader Finbar McDonnell at his reopened shop
ANGEL’s longest-standing antiques trader reopened the doors to his shop this week – six months after more than £100,000 worth of stock was destroyed by flooding.
Finbar McDonnell, 83, who started selling antique prints and maps in Camden Passage 45 years ago, told the Tribune this week he was glad to be back in business.
He was one of dozens of victims of devastating flood caused by a burst water main in Upper Street on December 5 last year.
Virtually all the stock at his Pierrepont Row shop was destroyed, including a series of 16th-century prints by Sebastian Münster (1489-1552), a Franciscan monk.
“It’s good being back in the shop. I’m very happy about it,” said Finbar, who has been working hard to restock the shop with the wide range of prints he is known for.
Mr McDonnell outside the flooded Camden Passage premises in December
“Around 90 per cent of my stock was destroyed. It was just before Christmas, which is meant to be the good time for us.”
He added: “I understand Thames Water [the company responsible for the pipe] have got this old, deteriorating system and it takes a good while to get the repairs done. But they could’ve been a bit more efficient because it took them four months to send an expert round to work out the cost of the damage.”
Finbar, who regularly travels by train to country auctions to buy stock, added that there was an irony behind him becoming a victim of the floods. His father James was a member of the Metropolitan Water Board when he was on London County Council some 70 years ago. “He would’ve said: ‘I told them so’,” he quipped.
His return to work was marred by a fall six weeks ago, in which he injured his neck, which is still in a cast. But he added: “I’m lucky. No matter what disasters you face, you’ve got to carry on, but it was unfortunate to happen on top of everything else.”
Pierrepont Row traders, who have also reopened. From left, Kevin Page, Lynette Gray, Johnny Barnett, David Wiltshire, Honey Tilley, Pauline Coakley-Webb and Jacqueline Bulmer
The flood destroyed businesses in Camden Passage and homes in Charlton Place and Colebrooke Row before flooding gardens and wrecking basements in Devonia Road, where some residents will not be able to return until after summer. Three shops affected by the flooding remain closed.
Christine Lovett, chief executive of angel.london, the business improvement district that manages the Angel, said: “We have all come together as a community to help shops and traders reopen and get back on their feet again.
“We have been meeting Thames Water regularly to make sure businesses are put back where they were, and we’re now waiting for Thames to stick to their word and contribute to a grand reopening event so we can tell everyone that Camden Passage is back in business.”
Thames Water has pledged to pay compensation to traders and residents. Many victims have received payments.