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19/07/2017

News release - Issued by York Minster

York Glaziers Trust celebrates 50th anniversary

The oldest and largest specialist stained glass conservation studio in Britain will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Thursday (20 July).

York Glaziers Trust was established on 20 July 1967 and has since been responsible for the care and conservation of York Minster’s world-famous stained glass, as well as historic stained glass around the UK.

The Trust was the vision of Eric Milner-White, Dean of York from 1941 to 1963, who had supervised a small team responsible for the restoration of the cathedral’s stained-glass windows after the Second World War, when they were removed to protect them from potential bomb damage.

After his death, the team was formed into an official Trust with the help of the Pilgrim Trust, with Peter Gibson OBE appointed as its first secretary and superintendent.

During the last 50 years it has been involved in a number of key events in the Minster’s history, including saving the Rose Window which was nearly destroyed by a fire in the South Transept in July 1984.

During the fire, the temperature of the window had reached 450 degrees centigrade and had cracked into around 40,000 pieces. “If you imagine a piece of glass the size of the palm of your hand cracked into 300 pieces, that gives you an idea," explained Mr Gibson, recalling his first inspection of the fire damage.

“After my initial investigation, I was able to say that although the Rose Window was as terribly damaged as it could possibly be, I was quite convinced the window would shine again.”

Other highlights have included the return of the Great West Window – known as the Heart of Yorkshire – to the cathedral in 1967 after wartime storage and restoration.

Between 1998 and 2007 the Trust worked to conserve the 15th century St William window, in the cathedral’s Quire, which was the first project to reveal the potential of using modern conservation to rediscover the window’s medieval narrative.

More recently the Trust has worked to conserve and restore the Great East Window, the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the country, as part of the York Minster Revealed project. The work included installing state-of-the-art UV resistant protective glazing, which was the first time the material had been used in the UK and the largest worldwide use to date.

As well as carrying out conservation work, the Trust has invested heavily in the training of young conservators and promoted the importance of York Minster’s stained glass through academic research and publications.

Sarah Brown, Director at the Trust since 2008, said: “It’s a huge privilege to be in the role of Director at the Trust as it reaches its 50th anniversary, and to look back on the work and achievements of the many talented conservators and glaziers who have worked here over the years.

“Although we work with historic buildings around the UK, our history is heavily linked to the story of the Minster, which has one of the most important collections of medieval stained glass in the world, and the largest in the country.

“A lot of the Trust’s early work was reactive, linked to emergency work needed to preserve irreplaceable stained glass. But over recent years there has been a move to address the ‘unseen risks’ to the cathedral’s glass posed by the impact of the environment, and especially the effects of internal moisture and condensation.

“The cathedral has been in the vanguard for the use of protective glazing since the 1860s, when it was the first British cathedral to provide protection for its windows. Although this approach was temporarily abandoned after the war it has been resumed to the highest international standards in the 21st century.

“We’re therefore celebrating the last 50 years but very much looking forward to the exciting work ahead, caring for the history and stories encased in the windows of this treasure house of stained glass.”

The York Glaziers Trust is celebrating its anniversary with a private dinner for its supporters and members at York Minster.

For more information about the Trust and its work, visit www.yorkglazierstrust.org or www.yorkminster.org.

ENDS


For media enquiries contact:

Leanne Woodhurst – Communications Manager – t: 01904 559534 m: 07824 017585; Email: leannew@yorkminster.org

Sharon Atkinson – Director of Communications – t: 01904 557248 m: 07785 615457; Email: sharona@yorkminster.org