Thursday 16 October 2008

The Great Fire of Westminster

This blog has described the fire which destroyed the Congress building - at the hands of the British - in 1814. There was also a catastrophic fire at Westminster twenty years later. This however was an accident. Workmen were "recycling" wooden tally sticks - originally used for accounting purposes. A furnace was overstoked - and a fire quickly spread. It turned out to be the most devastating fire that the Palace has ever suffered. Most of the Palace - with buildings dating from many centuries - was destroyed.

The Parliamentary website describes the efforts to deal with the catastrophe - "By the time fire engines arrived at the burning Houses of Parliament during the fire of 1834, the House of Lords was already destroyed and the Commons was on fire.

The Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, directed the work to soak the roof of Westminster Hall. The rest of the Houses of Parliament was lost but the hall was saved."

More details - and graphic pictures can be seen at http://www.explore-parliament.net/nssMovies/06/0693/0693_.htm
Today is the anniversary of this great fire.