Fire of Christmas Day 1962

Discovering the Fire of Christmas Day 1962

 

Boxing Day 1962 will be remembered by many local inhabitants, seeing that it was throughout  the evening of Christmas Day, that the Church of All Saint’s Branston was grievously damaged by fire. By the time the fire had been discovered much of the furnishings of the chancel and the “Willis” organ had been completely destroyed, and much of the main body of the Church was left badly charred. Services for Christmas Day became  commonplace with the celebration of Holy Communion at eight o-clock concluding with Morning Prayer at eleven o-clock. It was acknowledged that there was an above-average  congregation at both services. After singing the final hymn, the service of Morning Prayer was brought to a close. It was a recognized during this time for the church not to be secured and remained assessable to everyone.

 

Seasonable wintry weather, cold and frosty, allowed very few members to venture out after dark. It wasn’t until around seven o-clock in the evening that local resident Norman Day, whilst occupying the old rectory next to the church, heard a noise similar to the sound of rain and on looking out from the windows, family members discovered wisps of flame dancing on the chancel roof.fl In but a short while, the roof quickly became a mass of flames. Frank Taylor, who lived nearby and whilst partaking of an evening stroll, witnessed a red glow in the sky, which was found to be coming from the eastern end of the church. On discovering the fire, he immediately called for the fire brigade. Within a few minutes, several other calls were  received at the fire station headquarters on Monks Road in Lincoln from people who had witnessed the fire virtually at the same time.

 

Fire crews were dispatched from Lincoln, and on arriving at the top of Canwick Hill, crew members witnessed the extent of the blaze. Flames were seen reaching high into the crisp night sky. In having radio contact with the re station, crew members quickly relayed back a message for additional apparatus, including a turntable ladder. On arriving at the church, Station Officer John Corner found that “the whole of the eastern end of the church was ablaze, and we discovered immediately that our job was to prevent the re spreading westwards beyond the chancel screen and into the nave. It was apparent that we were too late to do anything in the sanctuary. The organ and choir stalls were blazing furiously. Good pressure of water was accomplished from the hydrants and attacking the roof timbers of the nave the remen had the gratification of witnessing a halt to the marching ames. However, not before the excessive high temperature had begun attacking the crew, burning the oak roof timbers and melting the sheets of  lead from the roof. Some remaining lead had to be ripped from the roof to enable  smouldering timbers below to be attacked. “A laborious, tedious job, said Mr. Comer”

There was no let-up for the firemen throughout the time they were at work; they continued fighting the fire  long into the early hours of Boxing Day; with the very low temperatures, water had to be kept flowing through the hose pipes, even when their jets were not in use, lest, in the icy conditions, the water froze in the hose. There were three appliances in attendance, including  one from North Hykeham at work, with Chief Fire Officer, John Stonehouse and Chris Murden.

 

The Rector, the Reverend Raymond Lucas, whose induction had taken place in little over a year after leaving Tunbridge Wells, entered the blazing church during the evening of Christmas Day to help rescue valuable church plate and documents from the church safe. Afterwards, the rector in saying, “there was nothing brave about entering the building