A WEEK or so ago we reproduced, on the centre pages of this newspaper, a stunning photograph from 1986 showing the metal supports for the temporary roof installed after the Minster fire of 1984 being finally removed.

Once the temporary roof was gone, we reported, the Minster's new roof was revealed for the first time. And a month after the photograph was taken, it was officially topped out by the Dean of York, the Very Rev John Southgate.

It was a wonderful photograph (which we have reproduced again today) showing a workman perched dizzyingly high on a metal frame, with the Minster towering behind.

But how great it would be, we thought, if we could dig out a sequence of photos showing the repair of the roof from beginning to end.

Which is exactly what we have done.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Monday, July 9, 1984 - a hot and sultry night, by all accounts, in which silent lightning flickered across the sky.

A fire alarm shattered the silence around the deserted Minster at about 2.30am. Within minutes, firefighters from the Clifford Street fire station's Red Watch were on the scene, to see flames flickering above the Minster's roof, and the air above the South Transept hazy with smoke.

The fire was spreading from the space between the South Transept roof and the ceiling below to the Central Tower.

More firefighters arrived, and before the night was over 114 firefighters from 12 of North Yorkshire's fire stations were involved in the battle to save the great cathedral.

At 5.24am, with the first grey light of dawn spreading across the scene, they were able to signal that they had finally got the fire under control.

The roof of the Minster's South Transept had been destroyed - but the great cathedral itself had been saved.

And so began a huge restoration project.

We have written extensively in the past about how the Rose Window was saved. Today's photographs focus on the two-and-a-half year restoration of the South Transept roof.

A temporary roof was quickly installed, and a new roof constructed from traditional materials that medieval builders themselves would have used. The roof was finally 'topped out' by the Dean of York in November 1986, two years and four months after the fire.

The Press, of course, was on hand throughout to document the process in pictures. Our photos today tell the story. They show:

1. Fire sweeping through the South Transept in the early hours of July 9, 1984

2. Scaffolders put plastic sheeting over the framework of a temporary roof for the South Transept in August 1984

3. March 1985: "Work is now well under way on the complex task of replacing the fire-ravaged roof of York Minster's South Transept," says the original caption to this photograph, which we assume shows a section of the new roof being built of traditional materials in a workshop

4. An ancient queen (one of York Minster's many grotesques) looks down as replacement beams for the fire-damaged roof arrive for storage

5: Traffic was halted in Deangate in December 1985 when four new roof structures were moved to the Minster's South Transept

6. October 1986: A 200ft crane lifted off the two and a half ton metal sections which had supported the South Transept's temporary roof since the fire of two years earlier. Pictured is workman Bill Fairweather

7. The Dean of York the Very Rev John Southgate topping out the new roof of the Minster's South Transept on November 28, 1986

Stephen Lewis