PLASTIC chairs used in Worcester Cathedral are being replaced at a total cost of about £140,000 as they are considered a fire risk.

The grey chairs stacked in the cathedral have been brought out for use on special occasions to supplement the pews for more than 20 years.

Cathedral steward Les West said the same type of chair was now considered a fire risk and had been responsible for blazes causing damage in other cathedrals, including Bristol.

He said: “They were showing signs of wear as well as being a fire risk, so we decided that we would replace them over the next three years.

“In the meantime, we will have to continue using them alongside the new ones we have introduced and we will be extra vigilant about the possibility of a fire.”

Mr West said the first batch of 120 new wooden Howe chairs had been bought at a cost of £20,000.

The Friends of Worcester Cathedral will be sharing the cost of replacing all 900 grey plastic chairs.

A letter has been sent to the friends by chairman Gerald Harris offering the chance to sponsor one of the new chairs at a cost of £100 each.

Mr West said the old grey chairs would be put up for sale.

“We are hoping there might be a village hall or something similar which would want to buy them if they have chairs that are even older,” he said.

The replacement started last year when Victorian oak chairs were sold at auction.

Mr West said 36 had been kept as examples of the hard wooden seating from the 19th century but their use had already been phased out.

He said: “The new ones are light and easily moved and stacked, which is an important consideration when we bring them out for events where we need more seating.”