The Great Fire of London

Topics: Great Fire of London, Building, City of London Pages: 6 (2510 words) Published: October 7, 2013
In the aftermath of the Bubonic plague, which had decimated the population and ruined the living conditions, the Great Fire of London struck the medieval city at the end of a dry summer in 1666. The fire started as an innocent blaze in a bakery, but due to lack of immediate response, turned into a giant inferno that raged for 3 days and ravaged London (Tinniswood 42). Despite the suspicions of the paranoid city dwellers, the official statement issued by the Parliament on the cause of the Fire was that “nothing hath yet been found to argue it to have been other than the hand of God upon us, a great wind, and the season so very dry” (Barker and Jackson 147). These unlucky happenings caused great economic, architectural, and social problems to arise after the massive destruction. The Great Fire of London, although terribly destructive to the city, allowed London to improve living conditions, beautify the city, and ameliorate their economy. After the Fire was put out, the city had been almost completely demolished, was severely economically damaged, and faced heavy inflation, so the government sought immediate funds to help solve these problems. At least 65,000 were homeless after the Fire, and people from all over England sent relief funds to London for food and storage of people’s belongings (Barker and Jackson 146). To help out the people that lived in the city, other people sent money that would help the citizens live without houses for a short amount of time, but not enough to significantly help the city get back on its feet and move people back into houses. It was not enough to even come close to repair everything lost. An estimated amount of loss was £3.96 million worth of houses were burned, £2 million worth of public buildings and £2 million worth of goods, a total of almost £10 million or about 15 million dollars (Tinniswood 128). Even though the actual amount of loss can’t be determined, the amount of money needed to repair the city was colossal. Inflation was no help, either. The price of houses increased to £150 a year after the Fire, when they had previously been sold for £40 a year (Tinniswood 130). Houses were very difficult to come by, and there was a shortage of available ones, so the market for houses exploded, and it became less affordable to live in a building that had been previously normal to own. Two months after the Fire, costs for materials had inflated so much that it was three times more expensive to build a building (Porter 110). British materials were so expensive and builders had to begin rebuilding as quickly as possible, the government would need to solve the economic problems the Fire caused if they wanted to save the city. Because of the huge level of destruction, the economic problems that the Fire unintentionally caused proved to be a difficult obstacle when it came time to spend that money in a smart way that would benefit the city.   After the government recognized these problems, they were able to find an effective way to deal with them, which would hopefully end up improving their economy so that it would be better than it had before the Fire. The government made the price of materials needed for rebuilding, like timber or bricks, a fixed cost after the Fire (Barker and Jackson 149). The material costs were kept fixed to prevent difficulty in obtaining them, which worked to the advantage of the government. The demand for supplies needed to rebuild the city also increased the supply from other countries and revived the trading system in London (Porter 126). With the prices fixed, other countries began supplying London with materials because it benefited them as well. In order to raise funds to rebuild the city, the government put a tax on coal, which was a steady source of income for Great Britain at the time (Porter 114). This would allow the government to raise lots of money in a short amount of time, which is exactly what they needed to resurrect the city. Although the Fire initially...
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