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Records blaze threat to Ulster heraldry

A blaze at the College of Arms in London yesterday threatened to destroy the coats of arms of Northern Irish families and official copies of the records of Ulster King of Arms.

Parts of the third and fourth floor of the six-storey building on Queen Victoria Street were on fire and 35 people evacuated, a Fire Brigade spokesman said.

Eight fire engines and about 40 firefighters were tackling the blaze after they were called shortly before 11am.

The College of Arms is the official repository of the coats of arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families and their descendants.

Its records also include copies of the records of Ulster King of Arms, the originals of which remain in Dublin.

The college building, which is south of St Paul’s Cathedral, dates from the 1670s and replaced Derby Place, which burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

The Fire Brigade spokesman said the blaze was under control by 2.30pm.

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The cause is still under investigation.

Peter Gwynn-Jones, Garter King of Arms, who is the head of the College, said: "This event is a great sadness to all of us who work here.

"We will work hard to put the building right over the forthcoming weeks, but we will remain open for business.

"I am glad that our emergency plan worked well, and I am really grateful to the Fire Brigade for the exceptional care they took, knowing what national treasures we care for here."

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