History lost to fire regulations

It was a sad day at the Minerva Inn, the oldest pub in Plymouth, England, when fire regulations forced owner Shelley Jones to paint over 500 years of hand-written messages left by regulars and sailors on its timber beams and roof. The pub was frequented by Sir Francis Drake and is believed to contain beams and masts stripped from the Spanish Armada. (photos)

The fire department was reluctant to order the destruction of local history, but  a spokesman concluded, "Safeguarding heritage from the ravages of fire is a vital part of the protection work of the fire service."