Crews from Rewley Rewley Road Fire Station had a great opportunity to test their skills at Blenheim Palace.

A 200-year-old flagpole had to be removed as part of a £2million conservation project at the heritage site.

The glass ceiling of its 18th century Orangery is being replaced with a timber and slate structure in the spirit of Vanbrugh’s original design.

Witney Gazette: Firefighters remove flagpole at Blenheim Palace

Rewley Road fire crew used the task as an exercise in using a hydraulic platform at a historic building.

The flagpole, which is made from timber, was previously reduced in height by approximately 2m (6.56ft) because it was unsafe.

On Wednesday, a team of firefighters helped remove it and Blenheim Palace said it would return to its position in the autumn.

The glass roof was installed after a fire broke out in an adjacent bakery and damaged the original roof structure in 1861.

Kelly Whitton, head of built heritage at Blenheim Palace, is leading the work which is expected to be finished in Autumn 2023.

Witney Gazette: Fireg

She said: “We don’t actually know exactly what the Orangery looked like pre-fire.

"There is very little information in the archives and post 1716, due to dwindling finances, Vanbrugh’s historic architectural plans from 1704 would have been scaled back.

Witney Gazette: Firefighters remove flagpole at Blenheim Palace

“We are restoring the Orangery to what we understand to be its original form, based on research and pre-fire evidence remaining on site.

“The 19th century glass roof has come to the end of its life, and it is time to make a serious change.

"Due to the pressures of climate change and noticeable temperature swings, we are proposing to return the roof back to slate."

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service posted on social media: "This was a great opportunity for firefighters to maintain their skills with the hydraulic platform, working in unfamiliar environments around an historic and extremely prestigious heritage building within Oxfordshire."

Witney Gazette: Firefighters remove flagpole at Blenheim Palace


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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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