Fire burns at historic College of Arms; around 40 firefighters were called to Blackfriars

Nico Hines

A fire was burning inside the 17th Century College of Arms in Central London this afternoon, leaving thousands of historic documents at risk.

The college building, which was constructed in the 1670s, houses the official records of the coats of arms of British and Commonwealth families dating back to 1530.

Eight fire engines were tackling the blaze today on Queen Victoria Street in Blackfriars, with parts of the third and fourth floors of the six-storey building alight.

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said that no historical documents were so far reported lost or damaged in the fire but the curator at the college is working closely with fire crews to preserve historical manuscripts held in the building.

The college building, which is just south of St Paul’s Cathedral, replaced Derby Place, which burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

As well as the official records the college holds a number of collections. These include an extensive library of printed genealogical and heraldic works and manuscript collections dating from the 14th century.

The office is a branch of the Royal Household but it is a working profit-making organisation responsible for registering family trees, coats of arms and researching and identifying heraldic crests. 35 people were evacuated from the building and a further 100 people were moved out of adjacent offices.

A fire service spokesman said: “Eight fire engines and around 40 firefighters yare tackling a blaze at a six storey office building on Queen Victoria Street in the City. Parts of the third and fourth floor are currently alight.

“Fire crews from Dowgate, Islington, Clerkenwell, Soho and Euston are attending the incident.”

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