York’s Jorvik Viking Centre has been closed for the first time in 32 years after the exhibition was submerged in 50cm of dirty floodwater.
The city has been severely hit by flooding over the Christmas period. The water levels of the River Ouse and River Foss are now falling but nine severe flood warnings are still in place mostly around York.
The process of removing water from the tourist attraction, which sits in a basement under the Coppergate Shopping Centre and features an underground ride around a mock-up Viking city, began with the help of two pumps on Tuesday.
Earlier, staff had removed important artefacts and helped build a barricade to try to protect the centre from the flooding.
In a statement, Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, which owns the centre, said: “When we first became aware of water leaking into the basement, we immediately transported all of the historic artefacts within Jorvik up to the first floor, and they have now been moved off-site to a safe location.”
"However, around half of the attraction is currently submerged, with water under the raised floor upon which the remainder sits. We are devastated by the scale of the water incursion in what, until now had been a watertight basement.”
Ms Maltby said: “This is actually a reconstruction of the River Foss, a wharf scene of the River Foss, which is now around our feet.”
“People usually ride around this in our capsules to commentary, smelling the smells, seeing the sights, hearing the sounds and, of course, that’s all gone.”
“In the 32 years that Jorvik has been open, it has never flooded before," she said.
Many with fond memories of attending the centre are hoping it will be saved and restored.
Jorvik will be closed until further notice.
Additional reporting by PA
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