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Flood-hit potter's kiln is fired up again at last

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 13, 2013

Potter John Leach fires up his kiln again after flooding on the Somerset Levels at Muchelney picture: Richard Austin

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A world-famous potter has been able to light his wood-fired Westcountry kiln this week for the first time in months.

John Leach, whose Muchelney pottery on the Somerset Levels was flooded in November, says his team is more than six weeks behind in their work schedule thanks to the inundation. Some of his neighbours in the village have yet to move back into their homes.

"The footings of our wood-fired kiln absorbed a lot of water right up to the seventh course – so we've had a dehumidifier in each of the three chambers for months," he said.

He went on: "Normally we do a firing every two months, so in production terms we are at least six weeks behind. The first morning I came downstairs there was an ominous pooling under the Aga.

"I've never experienced a flood before. We've had the other element – we had a fire here. But this is not pleasant – it's the relentlessness."

Unlike the other Muchelney households, Mr Leach and his wife Lizzie were able to stay put rather than abandon their home: "There are ten houses here and we were the only ones who remained on site – but only because the gallery and shop are 13 inches higher than the rest and that saved us. We carried our food out to the gallery to eat."

On Saturday Martin Hesp talks to John Leach for the first in a new WMN series on Country Crafts and Traditions.

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