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Saturday, December 27, 1997 Published at 13:56 GMT


Public back in Windsor Castle
image: [ The first vistors admire the Windsor Castle restoration project ]
The first vistors admire the Windsor Castle restoration project

Windsor Castle has opened to the public for the first time since fire destroyed more than 100 rooms in 1992.

The first visitors were in awe of the craftsmanship that has gone into the £36.5m repair project.

George Snaith, 75, a retired carpenter from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, said: "The amount of workmanship that has gone into it is amazing.

[ image: A young tourist looks up in wonder at Windsor]
A young tourist looks up in wonder at Windsor
"I take my hat off to the chaps who did this. It is a miracle what has been done to restore the castle, especially bearing in mind how it was just ash and rubble after the fire."

John Ffoulkes, from Windsor, brought his son George, eight, to see the restoration.

He said: "I saw the castle when it was first opened after the blaze and have been coming every three months to watch as the work was done.

[ image: The new ceiling at Windsor castle]
The new ceiling at Windsor castle
"The fire, although deeply upsetting, has given young people an opportunity to show what they can do. I think the hall is a much finer place now and far more impressive than it was before the blaze."

A newly-created private chapel includes a stained glass window born of some rough sketches by the Duke of Edinburgh.

It includes one panel depicting a firefighter with a hose in front of a burning castle and another shows a hard-hatted workman carrying a painting to safety.

Now the castle's defences includes £15 million-worth of fire prevention equipment, including smoke detectors, to prevent a repeat of the devastating blaze.

The huge restoration project, largely overseen by Prince Philip, was paid for with ticket sales from the opening to the public of Buckingham Palace.

The fire, on November 20 1992, severely damaged the north-east section of the castle, including St George's Hall and the Grand Reception Room.

It started in the chapel, where the heat of a spotlight caused a curtain to ignite.

Flames quickly spread and it took 250 firefighters from across London and the Home Counties more than 15 hours to put out the blaze, while the Queen stood watching.

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  Internet Links

The British Monarchy Official Website

Windsor Castle

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