IT’S business as usual at Cockermouth auctioneers Mitchells for their fine art sale on Thursday and Friday, December 3-4.

Despite the catastrophic floods that hit the Cumbrian market town on November 19, the saleroom was unaffected and expects the viewing for the next sale to go ahead in as normal a fashion as possible.

Crucially, while the 16 collapsed or closed bridges in the area have disrupted local traffic (particularly in nearby Workington), the main arterial roads are unaffected. Those heading to Cockermouth from the South (via the A66) and from the North or East (via the A595) can proceed as normal.

Parking arrangements remain unchanged (Sainsbury’s car park, used by many clients, is open), but it would be wise to allow more time for the journey.

Director Mark Wise told ATG his sale plans were running smoothly, but his priority was the rehousing of a dozen flood-hit local businesses in a vacant building adjacent to the saleroom.

Owned by Mitchells Auction Company, it is being transformed by joiners and telecoms engineers into a temporary home for a chemist’s (Allisons the Pharmacist has been dispensing drugs in the town since 1853), newsagent’s, toyshop, bookshop, legal practice, arts and crafts centre, travel agent and the Cumberland Building Society, among others.

Coffee shops close to the saleroom will be re-opened by the weekend (a concessions van will also be selling refreshments with proceeds going to the flood disaster fund) and the petrol stations are open too.

Clearly, while local facilities have been disrupted, the people of Cockermouth are working hard to make any visit as comfortable as possible.

The floods that crippled the region came at a difficult time for its fine art auctioneers who – according to tradition – hold their sales in close proximity in early December.

However, no sale has been called off, with the following events promising a worthwhile visit to the Lake District: Penrith Farmers’ & Kidd (December 2 and 5); 1818 Auctions, Kendal (December 8-9); Thomson Roddick & Medcalf in Carlisle (December 11).

1818 Auctioneers will be donating all monies raised from December’s sale catalogues (£5 each) to the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund.

By Roland Arkell