St Albans Sinkhole resident: “I feel safe from any further incidents”

David Walker lives near the sinkhole in Fontmell Close, St Albans. This photo was taken after most o

David Walker lives near the sinkhole in Fontmell Close, St Albans. This photo was taken after most of the cavity was filled with special concrete to plug it. - Credit: Debbie White

The Herts Advertiser has been visiting residents in St Albans to see how they have been coping one year after the sinkhole appeared in Fontmell Close on October 1, 2015, in a series of articles to mark the first anniversary of the collapse.

Hearing a hard knock on his front door, in the dead of night, former policeman David Walker assumed that a “drunk yobbo” was trying to attract his attention.

That particular night, however, there was something more dramatic to be concerned about – a huge sinkhole had appeared in the road within metres of his Fontmell Close home.

The Herts Advertiser has recently visited residents in Fontmell and Bridle Closes, to learn how they have coped, and to mark the first anniversary of the sinkhole, which appeared on October 1 last year.

David recalled: “I thought there was a maniac banging on my door, but it was one of my neighbours. He was desperately anxious to inform us that we were in danger, at about 1am.

“We were told to stay indoors, for fear of a gas explosion. The emergency services were working outside, and one of my elderly neighbours was wandering around in a daze, so we invited him in. He sat here quietly – we all were feeling numb.”

Asked how he coped with the traumatic incident, David said he and his wife were “very fortunate” that friends and family were “brilliant” and offered accommodation in the wake of the sinkhole.

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David added: “I would have hated living in a hotel after we were evacuated. From my perspective, given the circumstances, we couldn’t have been more fortunate.

“Not a single brick of any house near the sinkhole has moved as a result of the collapse.”

David said that since the county council had plugged most of the cavity with special concrete, and multiple surveys of the area had shown there was nothing further to fear looming below the ground of the backfilled, historic former claypit, “I feel very confident that we have been looked after [by local authorities].

“I feel safe from any further incidents.”

He thanked members of a residents group which was set up in the neighbourhood following the road collapse in Fontmell Close, for helping to keep locals informed of the restoration of services and keeping them updated about utility services and the efforts of St Albans and Herts councils.