1666 and London’s fire history: A re-evaluation

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Abstract

While it is incontestable that the Great Fire led to a new awareness and to stronger measures to prevent and to fight fires, this was not because it was the worst in a long series of serious fires, but because it was one of the first. London had no really large fires in the four centuries before 1666, but was to experience fifty or more in the following 200 years. This article asks why. Alongside the obvious facts of rapid population growth and the resulting shoddy building, the continued use of timber for housing, and the inadequacy of fire prevention measures, it suggests that the growth of London’s maritime trade and the concentration of stores of new types of highly flammable products, particularly along the river, created a new vulnerability to disaster that made earlier forms of fire control inadequate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-38
Number of pages20
JournalHistorical Journal
Volume59
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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