which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

Church struck by lightning 9 February 1945

In 1945 the church was hit by lightning and set alight. Quick thinkings by local residents Norman Smith, George Smith and Samuel Holmes helped stop the fire from gutting the building. World War Two’s stirrup pumps came to the rescue.

Derby Evening Telegraph: 9th February 1945

Lightning Fires Church:

Saved By Stirrup-Pumps

CRICH Parish Church was struck by lightning yesterday afternoon. and but for the prompt actions of residents armed with stirrup pumps, it would have been destroyed.

A bus driver and some villagers saw smoke rising from the roof of the church and three men Messrs. Norman Smith, George Smith and Samuel Holmes, seized their stirrup pumps, rushed to the church and began at once to tackle the flames, which were already raging inside the building.

Pews were alight and roof timbers were ablaze but the men were able to prevent the fire gaining a hold on the church and when the N.F.S. arrived from Ripley, the danger was quickly averted.

The Divisional Officer told a “Telegraph” representative that although the N.F.S. would have liked to have been quicker on the scene the promptitude of the three men probably saved the church from complete ruin.

Flames From Gas

It is assumed that lightning struck the church, fractured a gas pipe, and ignited a jet which in turn set fire to woodwork the flames spreading along to some black-out curtains and then penetrating into the roof.

Three or four sets of pews were destroyed, cornices in the ceiling were also burned, but the lead “flash” reduced the danger of the whole roof being involved.

The church was full of smoke and so intense was the heat that several memorial tablets were damaged. Nobody had been in the building during the day.

Some villagers said they saw “a ball of fire” hit the roof of the church.


One woman who was indoors at the time, heard a “terrific crack” and when she ran out saw smoke pouring from the roof. “It all happened in a flash,” she said.

The church of St Mary, Crich, dates back to the 12th century and contains many historical monuments.

churchfire article photo of 1940s fire engine Early 1940's Austin supplied by the Home Office for the National Fire Service (N.F.S.).


photo od firestation

There has been a fire station in Crich for over sixty-two years. Originally it was sited just behind the old Parish Rooms, on the Common. The present one was build on Sandy Lane in 1967. The retained fire-fighters based there have full-time jobs and carry alerters to call them to the station when required.

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