The Great Fire of Southwark, London
Category : Fire Safety Blog
Today is the 802nd anniversary of The Great Fire of Southwalk in London, one of the many fires that struck London Bridge, inspiring the classic nursery rhyme, London Bridge is Falling Down.
London Bridge was firstly made of wood and clay. It was then rebuilt with various materials listed in the famous children’s rhyme, following each fire.
At the time of the Great Fire of Southwalk, London Bridge was made of stone, which actually isn’t flammable. However, the bridge was also covered with highly flammable wooden shops and houses, which were quickly spread the fire and slowed movement across the bridge.
The fire in question gutted most of the area known as Southwark, which is the area south of the Thames.
London Bridge first ignited on the south side, but strong winds blew embers to the north side, which also caught fire. This left many people trapped on the bridge, both those who were fleeing the fire, and those who were heading towards the main blaze in order to fight it.
Overall, around a third of the old city of London was ravaged by flames. It is said that around 3,000 people died that day, many of whom were trapped on the bridge or drowned in the Thames.
The structure of London Bridge remained, but it was only partially usable for years after the fire.