York tells Paris: Like the Minster, Notre Dame will rise again

Notre Dame on fire. Photograph: Milliped on Wikipedia
16 Apr 2019 @ 7.59 am
| News

York has been sending its condolences to the people of Paris, as the awful scenes of Notre Dame in flames brought back vivid memories.

Many have compared the blaze at the medieval cathedral to that which devastated York Minster in 1984.

Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of French firefighters, the main structure of the building has been saved.

The roof and spire collapsed in the intensity of the blaze.

York Minster was among the first to send thoughts and prayers to Parisians last night.

A historian’s view

TV historian Dan Snow cited other damaging fires on monuments as evidence that Notre Dame “will rise again”.

He tweeted: “It’s overwhelming but remember that York Minster and Hampton Court burned in the 80s, Windsor Castle in the 90s and Cutty Sark in the 00s. Dresden’s Frauenkirche, the Catherine Palace…

“What we build, we can rebuild. Their essence endures.

“#NotreDame will rise again.”

A lightning bolt is believed to have sparked the fire in York Minster’s south transept on July 9 1984 which completely destroyed the roof.

More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze, which caused £2.25 million in damage. But a huge appeal was launched – and the restoration work was completed in 1988.

Other York residents sent their messages of support:

York firefighters remember

The terrible fire on July 9, 1984. Photograph: York Libraries & Archives
Fighting the Notre Dame blaze, Paris firefighters faced similar conditions to their York counterparts 35 years earlier.

Supported by ancient, dry timber, the roof enabled flames to spread quickly. But firefighter access to the ceiling spaces is very limited, often by narrow stairways.

Carl Boasman, 46, area manager for North Yorkshire fire and rescue, told The Times: “The main difficulty is getting around.”

Bob Littlewood, 87, who was superintendent of works at the Minster, told the paper:

  • What’s happening in Paris is tragic. It brings many memories back.

    Because all the doors into the loft and roof spaces were locked we were having to run up and down and get keys. We were in danger of losing the cathedral if the fire had spread into the transepts.

And Alan Stow, 79, divisional commander on the night, said: “There was a suggestion that the only way to stop the fire spreading was for the heat and smoke to be ventilated.

“The roof supports were very badly weakened and with [a] turntable ladder jet carefully positioned it managed to create a domino effect and the roof trusses tumbled down on to the floor. It was a dead easy job once the roof collapsed to put the fire out.”