Floods Special: Cathedral hit by lightning

PUBLISHED: 17:42 03 August 2006 | UPDATED: 11:56 04 May 2010

ELY Cathedral was hit by lightning and the historic King s School buildings were flooded as violent storms brought more chaos to the city. A lightning bolt hit the louvre shutters on the church belfry, causing damage to the West Tower, and an overflowing

ELY Cathedral was hit by lightning and the historic King's School buildings were flooded as violent storms brought more chaos to the city.

A lightning bolt hit the louvre shutters on the church belfry, causing damage to the West Tower, and an overflowing drain sent stormwater flooding into the ancient school buildings.

One of the cathedral octagon guides noticed the damage at the church when he took up the last tour of the day on Wednesday.

Looking over to the West Tower he saw that there were gaping holes in the belfry, where only hours earlier the doors had been in place.

Worried about the possible

damage, the Dean went to investigate only to find the doors had been blown into the tower by the force of the direct hit.

Storm water also penetrated into the cathedral itself, with large pools of water in the South Transept, Refectory and Stained Glass Museum.

Susan Matthews, curator of the Stained Glass Museum, said: "In such an old building rain coming in is part and parcel of the job. How much depends on the force and the wind direction."

But, she added: " I have never experienced rain quite like this. We watched the gargoyles on the outside of the cathedral and there were five-foot spouts of water pouring from them."

The storm caused problems by bringing down dust onto the cabinets and equipment in the museum.

Susan said "We have a disaster management plan, the stained glass was not at risk, but with a dedicated library of over 2,500 books, it was the nearest I have come to putting it into action."

At the nearby King's School, the newly built Gibson Music School was flooded, along with the Sixth Form Centre.

An eyewitness said that the drain immediately outside the school in The Gallery could not cope with the amount of water it had to contend with on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of last week.

He said there only had to be a small amount of rain before the water started to collect on the road. Sandbags still surrounded the school buildings this week.

On the Barton Road site the sports hall and the uniform shop were flooded. The shop was saved on Wednesday, but on Saturday the women who work there had to watch water flood the shop floor. They said that they timed the deluge and that it took just 20 minutes to cause the chaos.

Houses in Barton Square faced a similar fate with the police forced to close surrounding roads.

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