Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle
On November 20th, 1992, during the 45th wedding anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, a raging fire broke out in Windsor Castle, destroying over 29,000 square feet of space, or one-fifth of the entire castle. It took 250 firefighters 1.5 million gallons of water and 15 hours to put out the blaze. Like the fire, the restoration was enormous in scale, costing $59 million to complete over five years.

The first step in restoring the castle was to clear the debris. Workers used 7,000 dustbins for the task as well as 2,000 breadbaskets to collect artifacts, which they carefully salvaged and numbered. Industrial dehumidifiers operated 24 hours a day to dry out the hosed-down castle. During this phase, builders constructed a temporary roofing to stabilize the structure as well as a lattice framework consisting of 75 miles of scaffolding.

Thereafter, crews added permanent roofing as specialists restored major rooms such as the Great Kitchen. Once officials decided on a specific reconstruction plan for each room, they restored the rest of the castle, finishing the roof and replacing the windows. Ultimately, a combination of dehumidification, air circulation, and natural ventilation successfully removed all water from the building over the long restoration process.

Interestingly, workers made several exciting archeological finds during the restoration. Among the discoveries was a 138-foot-deep medieval well that reached right down to the River Thames. In the end, 4,000 skilled workers representing 200 contractors restored the castle to a semblance of its original state.

Principal source: The British Monarchy Web Site (

Photo: Corbis/Gary Trotter

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