The Archbishop of York joined firefighters, staff members, and the Minster's Organist Emeritus to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the night that the cathedral caught fire.

As part of an afternoon of celebration, four firefighters scaled the South Transept, and met with staff from the Minster and the Archbishop.

"It's wonderful that it's still here, it's been a great day among lovely people and former colleagues," said Tony Burnett, who fought the blaze on July 9, 1984.

Speaking on his climb up the South Transept, just 11 weeks after a knee operation, he added: "It was absolutely super, it was my first time going up since that day, but it just seemed like yesterday.

"It was like it was yesterday, the memories implanted in me."

The Archbishop of York (centre) with firefighters from the night and representatives of the fire service (Image: Harry Booth)

Marvelling at the roof's restoration, he said: "I hope it stays like that for another few hundred years."

Another person present on the night of the fire and at the anniversary agthering 40 years on was Phillip Moore - the former Master of Music turned Organist Emeritus.

He said: "The thing I can remember was taking my son and carrying him over the water at the back of the Minster, we went in at the west end and it was eerie seeing the organ case lit by the morning light - that was extraordinary."

Ahead of the commemorative service, which was held in the Minster at 5pm today (July 9), the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: "The wonder about York Minster is that obviously the fire was a particular horror, but every day of the year this building is being restored, so that it can continue to take its place through time.

"This building belongs to everyone."


The Archbishop went on to recount his first visit to York, which was just a few months after the fire - on his honeymoon.

He said: "It was my first ever visit to York Minster, it was shocking to see you know the whole of it was hollowed out - it was a shock to see that on a building like this.

"But it's also glorious that its been restored, so part of our commemoration is obviously thanksgiving, particular thanks to the firefighters - but to all the other hundreds and thousands of people that are part of its restoration."

He added: "This is a critically important building for York, but also for the world.

"York Minster is an iconic building that stands throughout time and history as a place of gathering and witness - and it was nearly destroyed.

"Today's service is a service of thanksgiving, particularly remembering those who saved the building."