AN AMUSEMENT arcade on Southend seafront has reopened for business – eight months after it was devastated by flooding.

Happidrome, in Marine Parade, has undergone a major refurbishment after suffering about £200,000 of damage as a result of last August’s heavy rainfall and seafront flooding.

Things were so bad after the floods owner Martin Richardson thought of walking away from the business he’d bought just six months earlier.

After sinking in a total of £280,000 into the refurbishment the arcade opened its doors to customers once again on Saturday.

After the flood, Mr Richardson managed to reopen part of the arcade last year, but closed it again in November to allow the building to be fully cleaned out and refurbished.

He said: “We had to close to re-do it completely.

“My main concern had always been contamination. A lot of young kids come in eating ice creams and I didn’t want contamination from sewage affecting the customers “We were the oldest arcade on Southend seafront – and now we’re the newest.”

The business was one of many on the seafront which suffered following torrential rain which swept through the region.

Water and sewage spilled into the arcade, ruining the carpets and leaving the whole place in need of a thorough going-over.

The re-fit has included more than £120,000 of new slot machines, plus new lights, security cameras and the re-laying of 700 sq m of carpet.

As his insurance didn’t cover the whole cost of the work, he sank an extra £80,000 of his own money into the refurbishment.

Builders have been inside the building for the past two months, with the last of the new machines due to arrive today.

Asked if it had been worth the effort, Mr Richardson admitted: “I did think about whether it was worth it, but I only bought the place in February last year. It would have been such a shame for Southend to lose out on one of its attractions.

“Apparently, I’ve just missed the seafront’s best March for 23 years, but we’re now back – and believe you me, we most definitely are back!”