Great explosions rang out in London’s Lower Thames Street: the sound of houses, shops, warehouses and taverns being blown up, a method intended to halt the spread of the seemingly unstoppable flames. It was September 2, 1666. The Great Fire was sweeping through London in the worst conflagration the city had seen.
Eventually, it would destroy more than 13,000 buildings and leave 80,000-100,000 people homeless – a sixth of London’s population. Officially, it was responsible for the deaths of six people, though many more likely went unrecorded. The disaster drastically altered the appearance of London, wiping out a large portion of the old town. But it also allowed new buildings to rise from the ashes, including St Paul’s Cathedral.
The Lower Thames Street blasts reduced timber-framed buildings to mounds of rubble which in the following months and years were used to raise and level the ground. New buildings rose up from the ruins, but relics of the fire were preserved.
Virtual reconstruction of London before the Great Fire