The Great Fire of London

The fire

How the Great Fire started, spread and was fought.

Read First Chapter
Chapter 01

Before the Great Fire of London

Despite many previous fires and predictions of more, firefighting techniques were very basic.

London’s fiery past

The Great Fire was not London’s first big fire.

Fighting fires in 1666

London did not have a fire brigade in 1666. How do you think fires were put out?

Predicting the fire

There had been predictions of a great fire in London. Terrifyingly, they came true.

Summer 1666

It had been a long, dry summer. Just before the fire, a storm started with high winds blowing from the east.

Chapter 02

The Great Fire begins

What at first seemed to be a small fire spread very quickly. The basic firefighting equipment, combined with other factors, meant that it raged rapidly out of control.

Sunday 2 September 1666, around 1am

The fire started in Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane. How did this happen?

2 September 1666, 3am

The Lord Mayor, Thomas Bludworth, went to look at the fire. He didn’t think it looked serious, so went back to bed.

2 September 1666, early morning

Strong winds meant that the fire spread quickly, and the wooden buildings acted as tinder.

2 September 1666, between 11am - 12pm

The Lord Mayor tried to stop the blaze by pulling down houses, but the fire moved too fast.

3 September 1666, morning

The government stepped in to help tackle the fire. They set up eight bases called fire posts.

3 September 1666, during the day

The fire was successfully held back at St Dunstan-in-the-East, thanks to the efforts of a group of schoolboys.

4 September 1666, 6am

Cheapside, one of the main streets in the City of London, began to burn.

Chapter 03

The fire eases

New firefighting techniques and a change in the weather meant that the fire could gradually be brought under control.

4 September 1666, daytime

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.

4 September 1666, evening

Gunpowder was used to blow up houses. It successfully stopped the fire around the Tower of London and Cripplegate.

4 September 1666, around 11pm

The wind changed direction and started to die down.

4 September 1666, night time

The fire was successfully stopped at Fetter Lane Corner, Pie Corner, Holborn Bridge and Temple.

5 September 1666, day time

Most of the remaining fires were put out. Samuel Pepys was able to walk through the smouldering ruins.

5 September 1666, night time

New fires broke out on the edge of the fire area at Temple, Shoe Lane and Cripplegate.

6 September 1666, around 5am

A final isolated fire broke out at Bishopsgate and was contained.

Chapter 04

After the fire

Although London continued to have fires, improvements to firefighting methods were slow.

Long after the fire

London still suffered fires despite the changes that were made to the City’s streets and buildings after the Great Fire.

Later in the 17th century

Firefighting methods gradually became more sophisticated.


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