What with the 70th anniversary of the London Blitz kick-off and last week’s anniverary of the Great Fire, the greatest of London’s fires have recently seen anniversaries. But there have been dozens of others that have dramatically changed the city’s landscape. Here’s a quick round-up of some of them.
The Great Fire of 1135
Destroyed most of the city between St Pauls and Westminster.
The Great Fire of 1212
A fire which broke out on the south bank of the Thames destroys Southwark Catherdral and the surronding area, then spreading onto medieval London Bridge, now supporting buildings recently constructed at the behest of King John. Driven by the wind, ashes and smuts lit the bridge further up, trapping thousands on the bridge itself. Medieval estimates claim that over 3,000 perished. More here.
1666: Great Fire of London
1691 and 1698: Fires of Whitehall Palace
Whitehall was the biggest palace in Europe. The second was the greater of these two fires, but the net result of both of them was that the Banqueting House was the only significant building to survive. Other lesser remnants were demolished in the 18C. Wren’s rebuild proposals were never taken up. More here.
1834: Fire at the Palace of Westminster
On 16 October, officials who were burning the Exchequer’s tally sticks started a fire which quickly got out of control. Beginning in the House of Lords chamber, the fire spread, destroying both Houses. Miraculously, Westminster Hall, the Jewel Tower, the Undercroft Chapel and the Cloisters and Chapter House of St Stephen’s survived thanks to a change in the wind direction. Barry and Pugin’s replacement building was completed in 20 years from 1840. More here.
1936: Crystal Palace
The glass and steel structure from the Great Exhibition of 1851, was moved to Sydenham in 1854 and run as a pleasure garden and tourist attraction. It was totally destroyed on 30November after a seemingly innocuous fire started in a women’s cloakroom escalated into an uncontrollable conflagration.
1940-41: London Blitz
1987: King’s Cross
Wooden escalator and ticket hall conflagration kills 31 on the evening of 18 November. More here.