Looking Back: When the Cathedral was minutes away from disaster

An article in this week’s Peterborough Telegraph, about the work of the city’s volunteer firefighters, spotlights how they were key to tackling a fire in the cathedral 21 years ago.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 17th July 2022, 12:00 am
The Peterborough Cathedral fire in 2001
The Peterborough Cathedral fire in 2001

It has been described as a "catastrophic" fire which threatened to destroy the ancient building.

The fire broke out in a stack of plastic chairs on 22 November 2001, resulting in extensive smoke damage to stonework and windows.

The cathedral said it was "only thanks to the prompt actions of the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service" that the building was saved.

The fire at Peterborough Cathedral in 2001

The Revd Canon Dr Rowan Williams said: "It could have been catastrophic."

"It had one of very few Medieval wooden ceilings left in Europe, and the temperature of the fire was just under what it would have taken to be a disaster".

She added: "It nearly created a fireball and we were minutes away from that."