Fire Damage – December 2010
Early on the morning of Thursday 23rd December 2010, Churchwarden and Organist John Burdett entered the church to get in some practice on the organ, ready for Christmas. He was greeted by sickening clouds of smoke and a fire raging in the North Aisle. His prompt action in calling the fire-brigade saved not only the church but probably much of West Street too.
The rest of the day was devoted to extinguishing the fire and making the building safe. Water from the fire hoses flooded the interior. Everything had to be moved to safety.
Within two days our congregation enjoyed the Christmas celebrations in a improvised chapel set up in the Wagner Hall.
The fire was started by rags soaked in linseed oil, which was being used to seal the newly laid terracotta tiled floor. Left all night, these rags spontaneously combusted and ignited a container of white spirits and the church’s Steinway grand piano, which was destroyed. The extraordinary mess from oily smoke made everything filthy.
The newly painted walls were now dark grey, all the fabrics were grimed and the new floor indelibly marked with the firemen’s boot prints! Worst of all, the workings of the organ were stuck together as if by glue.
A major clean-up took three years before we were able to return to normal.
The Chancel ceiling, cleaned and restored May 2011
Destruction of the Steinway Grand Piano, Wednesday 22nd December 2010
How bad it looked before the restoration: