History uncovered: WW2 firefighters build water tank at Lincoln Cathedral

This story is over

A Lincoln woman has shared a series of fascinating family photographs telling the story of her firefighter grandfather’s role at Lincoln Cathedral in WW2.

Susan Taylor described how her ears would prick up whenever her grandfather, Frank Brown, spoke of his stories from the Second World War.

Now photographs have surfaced of her grandfather helping to install an important piece of the cathedral’s history.

Frank was a member of Lincoln Fire Brigade and during the war he and his colleagues stayed in the city to protect it.


Frank Brown pictured here, fourth on the left.

During this time a large underground water tank was built in the grounds of the cathedral to provide access to large amounts of water should the cathedral be hit by air strikes.

The photographs Susan found show the fire brigade helping to build the tank and fill it by piping water from Brayford Pool all the way up to the cathedral.

Community dig to remove tank

The now redundant water tank, which sits underground on the north side of the cathedral, will be carefully removed during a community dig in 2017 to make way for the proposed Lincoln Cathedral Connected plans.

A recent dig was carried out by Lincoln firm Allen Archeology.

A recent dig was carried out by Lincoln firm Allen Archeology.

The community dig will give local people a once in a lifetime chance to experience first-hand what lays under the cathedral’s grounds and becoming part of its history.

Anyone wishing to find out more about how to get involved in the dig in Spring 2017 can email [email protected]

 Image: Simpson Brown Architects

Image: Simpson Brown Architects

As part of the scheme, it is proposed that a new visitors centre will be built where the water tank currently sits and will include a new café and shop and exhibition spaces to display some of the cathedral’s treasures.

Susan, from Lincoln, said: “My grandad always had such interesting stories to tell of Lincoln during the war and the jobs he was called out to all those years ago.

“His brigade was also called down to London to support the otherwhelmed local fire brigades down there during the Blitz.

“I’m proud that he is part of the history of the cathedral and the photographs capture a team working together to help protect our precious cathedral which was the last landmark our airmen saw as they left the county and the first on their return.

Frank is pictured at the back here with a cross by his head.

Frank is pictured at the back here with a cross by his head.


“I think it’s a fantastic idea that there will be a community excavation as part of the removal of the water tank.

“I’m sure many local people would love to be involved as would I, not only to step into my grandad’s footsteps but to be a part of the cathedral’s next chapter.”

Cathedral architect and surveyor Nicholas Rank said: “It’s fantastic that the people of Lincoln will have an opportunity to be part of a community dig and see first-hand the work that was done to protect the cathedral from threatening air strikes.

“This excavation, which will be overseen by our archaeological consultant, will reveal historical information from the period of the Second World War and aspects going back to the 13th century.

“In particular, we hope to find information about buildings that were built on the site before the water tank was installed.

“This is a great project for us and one we would like local people to be involved in.”

Connected has been earmarked £12.4million by the Heritage Lottery Fund to create the visitors centre but also the landscaping of Dean’s Green to create a new outdoor public space and restoration work to the iconic West Front.

A recent archeological dig previously uncovered a number of historical artefacts and medieval skeletons.

Lincoln Cathedral Connected dig Collage

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.