THERE was shock and sadness in Cockermouth on Sunday morning as local residents woke to find that the back of the Grade II listed Old Courthouse building had collapsed into the river.

Around 5am on Sunday, October 7 the back of the building collapsed in the River Cocker.

The building was first declared unsafe back in November 2021. Cockermouth’s Civic Trust group had warned about the safety of the Old Courthouse, with their architectural advisor saying in April that the building remained “highly vulnerable to further collapse”.

Main Street and the Cocker Bridge were closed by Cumbria Police and buses were diverted through the town.

There was a sense of shock in the town as residents described ‘chunks’ of roof and former balconies in the river.

Jonty Chippendale, owner of the Toy Shop in Cockermouth, said: "This was so utterly predictable. This has been a failure by the powers that be.

"No one was prepared to take responsibility. We have been saying this would happen for nearly two years. Now it's happened, the real loser is Cockermouth. It's irrecoverable.”

The Environment Agency said it was acting with Cumberland Council "to minimise any potential environmental impacts". The town’s flood walls “remain intact” and the flood risk for Cockermouth has not increased, they added.

London property consultant Samiul Ahmed bought the Old Courthouse at auction last year, for £51,000 and planned to spend more than £100,000 making it safe.

A Cumberland Council spokesperson said: “The Old Courthouse is an iconic building in Cockermouth and we share local residents sadness following the recent partial collapse of the building.

“We are working with emergency services and partners to do all we can to assess the damage and take immediate steps to protect public safety.

“The bridge over the River Cocker has been closed as a precautionary measure and screening will be installed. Please avoid the area and follow any diversions in place.

“There have been no reports of any injuries and although some debris has landed into the river, the river is still flowing.

“The Environment Agency has confirmed that although the collapse is near to their flood walls, the walls remain intact and the town’s flood risk has not increased.

“A multi-agency response is now in place, and we will provide updates as soon as they are available.

“This is a privately owned building and has been an ongoing issue. We continue to work with the owner of the property, and partners.”