Lightning strikes York Minster
When York Minster set alight in the early hours of July 9 1984 several explanations were offered: it was caused by a UFO; it was divine retribution for a massacre of Jews in the city 794 years previously; or rather more probably, it was caused by a lightning strike.
York Minster in fact has a bit of a history of fire damage: in 1829 an arsonist destroyed the Quire and caused great damage elsewhere; in 1840 the roof of the Nave burned down in an accidental blaze.
The 1984 fire was attended by more than 100 fire-fighters, who limited the damage and stopped the fire spreading by pouring water onto the South Transept roof until it collapsed. Witnesses the next day said that the Minster's floor was three inches deep in water.
Most dramatic of all the damage was to the great rose window, which shattered into something like 40,000 pieces, though the lead work which had been renewed twelve years previously meant the shape was kept and the glass remained in place if cracked.
Restoration work cost more than £2 million, and (some may say belatedly) modern fire detection and protection devices were fitted at an additional cost of over £300,000.
The roof was repaired with methods and materials that would largely have been familiar to the original 13th century builders, a task that lasted four years. And the rose window was restored to its full and original glory under the direction of renowned stain glass expert Peter Gibson.
More famous dates here
9522 views since 9th July 2008
On this day: