London did not have a fire brigade in 1666. How do you think fires were put out?
There had been predictions of a great fire in London. Terrifyingly, they came true.
It had been a long, dry summer. Just before the fire, a storm started with high winds blowing from the east.
The fire started in Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane. How did this happen?
The Lord Mayor, Thomas Bludworth, went to look at the fire. He didn’t think it looked serious, so went back to bed.
Strong winds meant that the fire spread quickly, and the wooden buildings acted as tinder.
The Lord Mayor tried to stop the blaze by pulling down houses, but the fire moved too fast.
The government stepped in to help tackle the fire. They set up eight bases called fire posts.
The fire was successfully held back at St Dunstan-in-the-East, thanks to the efforts of a group of schoolboys.
The fire reached its peak on 4 September 1666, spreading from the Temple in the west to near the Tower of London in the east.
Gunpowder was used to blow up houses. It successfully stopped the fire around the Tower of London and Cripplegate.
The fire was successfully stopped at Fetter Lane Corner, Pie Corner, Holborn Bridge and Temple.
Most of the remaining fires were put out. Samuel Pepys was able to walk through the smouldering ruins.
New fires broke out on the edge of the fire area at Temple, Shoe Lane and Cripplegate.
London still suffered fires despite the changes that were made to the City’s streets and buildings after the Great Fire.
London continued to be affected by fires long after 1666. In 1676, a terrible fire claimed around 20 lives and 600 houses in Southwark, south of the Thames. The lessons learned during the Great Fire ten years earlier had had little effect on Southwark. It was still made up of old timber-framed buildings and narrow streets.
On 26 May 1676, a small fire started in a paint and oil seller’s shop on what is now Borough High Street. The fire raged for 17 hours before it was extinguished using gunpowder to create fire breaks. Again, King Charles II and his brother the Duke of York assisted with the firefighting effort.
On 4 January 1698 a servant left some washing next to a fire to dry at the Royal Palace of Whitehall.
It caught light. Gunpowder was used to blow up buildings and fire engines pumped water for hours. Even so, most of the palace was destroyed in the flames. Several people died, including a gardener who was killed during one of the explosions.
The fire began on 23 June 1861 in a warehouse at Cotton’s Wharf in Tooley Street, near London Bridge, and raged for two days.
It destroyed many nearby buildings and warehouses full of expensive and flammable, goods. It was two weeks before the fire went out completely.
The Blitz is the name given to the sustained German bombing campaigns from 7 September 1940 to 16 May 1941 during World War II. This affected many towns and cities across the UK, especially London. Bombs, including incendiary bombs, reduced swathes of London to rubble and killed thousands of people.
The night of 29 December 1940 has been called the Second Great Fire of London and was one of the worst air raids, leaving an area of destruction stretching from Islington to St Paul’s Cathedral. Around 1,500 fires started. Many of the City churches designed by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire were destroyed or damaged that night. Other buildings created after the fire such as livery company halls (livery companies are trade and craft associations) and part of the Guildhall, were also hit.
By May 1941, around 300,000 houses had been destroyed and over 20,000 civilians killed in the London area.