Business owners in Longtown have spoken out about the impact a bridge closure has had on their sales.

For two days, businesses sitting along Bridge Road in Longtown faced a drastic drop in customers setting foot in their shop after the main route in and out of the town was closed off.

Last Thursday, an accident caused significant damage to the Longtown bridge leading to it being closed so that the damage could be assessed.

Chelsea McLeish, a bakery assistant for the Gretna Bakery in Longtown, said: “We’re normally quite busy but yesterday we were really quiet - I think it’s one of the quietest days we have ever had.

“On Friday, we’re normally really busy with hot food.

“People from the CAD and other businesses across the bridge come over to order hot food and we have had no orders at all today.”

The popular bakery isn’t the only business to notice the impact that the bridge closure had on trade.

Cafes shared posts on social media to say that despite the closure they are still open for business.

Richard Thomson, co-owner of Four Seasons Shop in Longtown, initially didn’t notice a drop in customers when the road was closed off - but the following day the difference became much more noticeable.

He said: “It was a busy day yesterday, it was busy for January, but today it seems to be much quieter interestingly enough.

“Some of our customers don’t drive so they have to use the bus to get backwards and forwards and certainly that’s going to affect it because buses will be quite disrupted.

“I’m looking out of the window now and there aren’t a lot of people around.”

Hannah Robertson, the owner of Inspire Beauty Salon, relies on appointments and regular clients in order to keep her business going.

After just one day, she had clients turning up late and cancelling appointments.

She said: “The town is absolutely dead, there is no passing trade, nobody is stopping for walk-in appointments or anything.

“I lost a whole hour and a half... and big money because of that.

“We’re self-employed so when the people aren’t coming through the doors, there is no money coming in.”

The road closure isn’t just disrupting customers from reaching the shops.

Staff at the Gretna Bakery in Longtown found that their morning deliveries were impacted as the van couldn’t take the direct route to the shop.

Chelsea said: “We get our fresh delivery every day from Gretna which has taken longer to get here because it has to go all the way around.”

“It’s a lot later, normally we would get it before 7am but it’s closer to 8am now.

This the second time that the bridge has been closed due to an issue with structural integrity within four months.

Traffic lights were set-up on the road and one lane was closed as it awaited inspection to determine what to do with it.

“When it happened last time, the same happened we just quietened right down,” commented Chelsea.

“I think if they don’t repair it, there will be a big hit on the business in takings.”

The businesses haven’t heard anything from the council

Cumbria Police have issued an appeal for witnesses who may have seen the crash which took place in the early hours of January 16.

A Cumbria Police spokesman said: “The collision potentially occurred around midnight.

“A vehicle has struck the bridge causing significant damage.”

A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council said: “Following an incident in Longtown that damaged Esk Bridge, the county council is working with our Highway Maintenance Contractor, Connect Roads, to assess this listed structure and develop a programme for the repairs.”

“Works are ongoing to establish the extent of the damage and the method of repair which involves liaison with a number of partners.

“Our first priority is the safety of the travelling public and now that the site has been made safe further arrangements are now being put in place to support public transport in the area which we know is vital for the local community in Longtown and the Border region.

“Due to the nature of the damage and its location, HGV’s remain rerouted via the M6 diversion route.

“We thank the public for their patience and advise to allow extra time for your journey if you are travelling in the area.

“More details regarding the repair works schedule will be confirmed and issued in due course.”