PortCities London

Fires in the port


The Tooley Street fire.
View full size imageThe Tooley Street fire. © NMM
As in every city, fires were always a great danger in London. The Great Fire of 1666, when half the City was destroyed, showed that even a small fire could have devastating consequences. However, it took nearly 200 years before a professional fire service was set up in London.

Vaults at the Rum Quay at the West India Dock after the fire.
View full size imageVaults at the Rum Quay after the fire of 1933. © NMM
Many of the most ferocious fires broke out on ships or in the warehouses of the port. As a result, the London fire services developed special facilities to fight blazes on and along the river.

Firemen tackling a blaze at the Surrey Docks.
View full size imageFiremen tackling a blaze at the Surrey Docks. © NMM

It was mainly in the port that London's Fire Brigade faced its deadliest challenge during World War II, when Hitler's bombers attempted to destroy London's trade and communications.

Designed to deal with peacetime emergencies, London's Fire Brigade met the wartime challenge and ensured that the city was never brought to a standstill.




For more information about the history of the London Fire Brigade:



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