Around midday on Thursday May 11, a heavy thunderstorm with giant hailstones approached, according to archivist Michael Hill: “Suddenly down the walls in the Sacristy, Cathedral, Narthex and the Diocesan Archives, poured torrents of water. The water collected in puddles on the floor and splashed everywhere over furniture, books, organs, vestments and so on.
“It was rather startling to be confronted with water flowing down the walls and dripping onto me in the underground archive from the fixtures and fittings. Meantime, above, in the choir’s sacristy, it was all hands to the pumps to try to stem the flow of water towards the musical instruments and music manuscript. Surplices were wrested from cupboards and thrown on the floor to mop up the water and a big effort made to move everything away from the water flowing down the walls and over the floor.”
In the Archives, Michael was piling archive boxes as high and as far away from the threatening wetness. It seemed as there was no stopping the inundation.
Cathedral handyman, Adam Walus, leapt into action and climbed up onto the roof as the storm raged around him and identified the root cause of the flood – a vast quantity of hailstones collected and plugged the downpipes, whereupon the water filled the gutters and overflowed onto the walls.
Adam said: “I saw what the problem was. I pushed the ice and hailstones out of the way to let the water escape into the downpipes, where it was meant to go!”.
Cathedral manager, Charley Purves, said: “Adam really saved the day as without his actions there would have been a great deal more water and much more damage. Within minutes those battling the encroaching waters noticed a reduction in flow. Then it all stopped. From the panic of trying to save everything from getting wet, everyone quickly focussed on mopping up with anything that came to hand including all of the Cathedral House towels.
“The electrician and fire alarm engineer came that afternoon to check all the areas and devices were safe. Now we wait for everything to dry out.”
Back in the archives Michael saw the ambient humidity hit 70% but, a few days later, it is dropping back below 50%.
Pictured top is handyman Adam Walus and, above, music books which suffered some flood damage.