York Minster shows how cathedrals can be restored after fires | UK News

Hidden away up a steep narrow staircase at York Minster is the evidence that proves you can restore historic cathedrals to their former glory. 

The south transept of the world-famous landmark was almost destroyed by fire in 1984 after a lightning strike on the roof.

The task included replacing a medieval roof and precious stained glass windows
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The task included replacing a medieval roof and precious stained glass windows

The task faced by the craftsmen of the day was enormous – replacing a medieval roof and precious stained glass windows.

The famous Rose window dates back to 1515 and was painstakingly restored after being shattered into around 40,000 pieces.

The famous Rose window dates back to 1515 and was painstakingly restored after being shattered into around 40,000 pieces
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The famous Rose window was restored after being shattered into around 40,000 pieces

Geoff Brayshaw was 27 when the fire ripped through the Minster. He knows the wooden structures within the building better than almost anyone.

Working with a small team of experts, he replaced the roof timbers that had burnt or crashed to the floor in 1984.

“I can still smell the timbers that were charred even 35 years on,” he told Sky News.

Geoff Brayshaw, who was 27 when the fire ripped through the Minster, replaced the roof timbers
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Geoff Brayshaw replaced the roof timbers

Now under the eaves the ancient oak timbers that could be saved sit side by side with timbers from the 1980s.

“It was a fair job…but you just have to crack on….we’ve now got roof spaces, compartments that would hopefully contain a fire and fire safety is now just part of everything we do,” Mr Brayshaw aid.

The famous Rose window dates back to 1515 and was painstakingly restored after being shattered into around 40,000 pieces
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Debris from the 1984 fire

“They have a bigger job on in Paris – we were lucky it was contained to just part of the Minster…we managed to get some bits back open for people within two weeks.”

The Master Mason in York is John David who also worked on the four-year restoration in the 1980s and estimates the project in Paris could take somewhere between 8-10 years.

York Minster
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York Minster is a world-famous landmark

He urged the French decision-makers to take their time.

“What they should do is make informed decisions – if people (are) sitting around a table, if one of them is not a craftsman, they are not making an informed decision.”

“It can be done and to me should be seen as a challenge, it’s a great opportunity to train more people in these crafts.”

The Master Mason in York,  John David, estimates the project in Paris could take somewhere between 8-10 years
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The Master Mason in York, John David, estimates the project in Paris could take 8-10 years

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