No smoke without fire

Great Fire of London

Between 2 and 5 September, 1666 the Great Fire of London raged through the streets of the City. On the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire, King’s College London is officially smoke-free across every campus, a change that supports King’s commitment to creating and maintaining a healthy environment for the benefit of staff, students and visitors. 

But on this anniversary, what else do we know about the impact of the Great Fire? Professor Laura Gowing and Professor Arthur Burns, Department of History, examine the impact of the fire on London’s geography, housing and opportunities, and consider how it affected the future of St Paul's Cathedral.

Did you know… 

  • The fire destroyed almost everything within the old City limits. From the Tower of London to Holborn and the start of the Strand, almost nothing survived. Luckily, King’s was founded in 1829. The fire swallowed 400 streets, 13,200 houses, 87 churches, and 44 livery (Guild) halls.
  • Of the 13,200 buildings that were destroyed, only eighteen pre-fire buildings can still be seen today, including the Tower of London and the Old Curiosity Shop, which was actually a few streets away from the Great Fire’s limits, but is so close to King’s Strand Campus it’s worth mentioning.

Old Curiosity Shoppe

  • An estimated 70,000-80,000 people were left homeless as a result of the fire.
  • The Great Fire helped to kill off some of the black rats and fleas that carried the plague.
  • The River Thames again became a blazing beacon in September 2016. A 120-metre barge bearing 190 replica 17th-century buildings was set alight in the heart of the City to commemorate the anniversary.