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Fire! Fire! website goes live today on 350th anniversary of 1666 Great Fire of London

PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:22 02 September 2016

Oil painting of Great Fire of London, seen from Ludgate [All images: Museum of London]

Oil painting of Great Fire of London, seen from Ludgate [All images: Museum of London]

Museum of London

A new website for students wanting to study the Great Fire of London goes live today on the 350th anniversary of the historic disaster that swept through the City.

Shocking progress of Great Fire of 1666 from Sunday, September 2, to Wednesday September 5Shocking progress of Great Fire of 1666 from Sunday, September 2, to Wednesday September 5

It is expected to become the main online learning resource for schoolchildren who study the Great Fire of 1666 at Key Stage 1, following the exhibition which has already opened at the Museum of London.

The educational Great Fire of London website draws on the collections of the 11 cultural organisations and combines historical content, interactive maps, child-friendly games, illustrations and a timeline navigation.

It reveals how the fire started at a bakery in Pudding Lane, by London Bridge, on the site where The Monument stands today, how it was finally put out, who was blamed and how it affected London.

Stories are told through interactive maps of London in 1666 and the present day.

READ ALL ABOUT IT! World's first scoop in world's first newspaper... London Gazette report of conflagration was delayed when it had to move its press out as office in Fleet Street was engulfed by the very fire it was reportingREAD ALL ABOUT IT! World's first scoop in world's first newspaper... London Gazette report of conflagration was delayed when it had to move its press out as office in Fleet Street was engulfed by the very fire it was reporting

The website forms part of the museum’s commemorative activities for the 350th anniversary of that turning point in London’s history, the conflagration that started on a Sunday, September 2, 1666, and spread mainly westward over the next three days.

Activities centre around the Fire! Fire! exhibition at the museum in London Wall until next April.

Artifacts on show include surviving tiles, a tapestry and a padlock burned and rusted solid in the flames.

The centrepiece is a restored 17th-century ‘fire engine’ originally built by John Keeling in the late 1670s, the decade after the Great Fire. The only surviving part of the machine when the museum acquired it in 1928 was the barrel and pump.

What was learned...  19th century photo of first 'fire engine' c1678 after the Great Fire of 1666, now restored and on show in Fire! Fire! exhibition till April, 2017What was learned... 19th century photo of first 'fire engine' c1678 after the Great Fire of 1666, now restored and on show in Fire! Fire! exhibition till April, 2017

Its restoration was modelled on a 19th-century photograph of the contraption when it was still intact with its undercarriage, wheels, tow-bar and pumping arms.

The museum worked with Croford coachbuilders in Kent over three months to reconstruct the machine as authentically as possible, using traditional techniques and materials, carefully crafted and assembled to fit exactly to the inch around the original barrel pump.

“The crude pump mechanism was only able to squirt out six pints of water over a short distance,” exhibition curator Meriel Jeater explains.

“So it would have been perilously close to the flames to have had any chance of putting them out.

London 10 years after Great Fire... map shows rebuilt cityLondon 10 years after Great Fire... map shows rebuilt city

“We now know that the fixed wheels and its heavy weight, even without water, would have made it extremely difficult to manoeuvre around London’s narrow, cobbled streets.”

Visitors to the exhibition can learn what London learned and how fire-fighting techniques developed after the Great Fire.

The East End of the City was largely spared because of the prevailing winds in the opposite direction. The flames stopped just short of Tower Hill and the Tower of London.

Fire! Fire! runs till April 17, 2017, focusing on everyday life on the eve of the fire, the dramatic events as the blaze burned through a quarter of the city for four days and how the capital recovered from the devastation.

Tickets: £8 adults (£4 children). Family tickets available.

Tube: St Paul’s (Central Line) and Barbican (Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City).

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