BUILDERS fled from one of Harwich’s oldest homes moments before its chimney stack collapsed.

Renovation work is ongoing at the roof of the house in Church Street, which is history group the Harwich Society’s headquarters.

Contractors heard the chimney creaking on Friday.

They got out before the stack collapsed, damaging the landing. No one was injured.

Colin Farnell, Harwich Society chairman, said: “The building will be repaired and this incident will become another chapter in the Harwich Society’s history.

“It is not the way we would have chosen to begin 2014, but we will celebrate the fact no one was hurt, rather than regret the need for the repairs to the building.

“We will have Foresters looking its best again as soon as possible.”

The timber-framed house, built around 1450, is thought to be the oldest house in Harwich.

It was the Foresters Arms public house from 1800 to 1940, when it was hit by a bomb, during the Second World War.

After standing derelict for nine years, it was bought and restored by the late Harwich Society president, Winifred Cooper, and her husband.

On her death, in April 1999, she left Foresters to the society.