Thursday, September 01, 2016

London's Burning Festival - 350 years after 1666

Artists are heavily involved in the activities to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London which started on 2nd September 1666.  

This weekend is all about Great Fire 350 in the City of London.

Website for Great Fire 350 - marking events 350 years ago
The Great Fire of London started in a baker's shop belonging to Thomas Farynor. By 1am his house in Pudding lane was ablaze. The fire then spread quickly down Pudding Lane and carried on down Fish Hill and towards the Thames. Buildings were made of timber and their roofs were covered in pitch to make them waterproof, However these made them very combustible and it was easy for the fire to spread as buildings were typically built very close together.

Fires were quite common at the time. People were not initially alarmed. What made this one different is that it was the end of a long hot summer, the buildings were tinderbox dry and this fire began to burn out of control....
The fire soon took hold: 300 houses quickly collapsed and the strong east wind spread the flames further, jumping from house to house. The fire swept through the warren of streets lined with houses, the upper stories of which almost touched across the narrow winding lanes. Efforts to bring the fire under control by using buckets quickly failed. Panic began to spread through the city.

As the fire raged on, people tried to leave the city and poured down to the River Thames in an attempt to escape by boat.
Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg - The Great Fire of London - Google Art Project
The Great Fire of London by Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg

Activities for the 350th commemoration of the Great Fire of London

The London's Burning Festival, organised by Artichoke, will involve a range of activities across the square mile of the City of London.
London’s Burning will bring the Square Mile and beyond to life with a series of art installations, performances and talks that will give a contemporary perspective on a significant moment in the country’s history.
This is the official website for the commemoration and the Festival.

You can also Download the programme of events taking place between now and the finale - the big burn - Sunday.

These include:
  • Artist Martin Firrell presents Fires of London, two new commissions either side of the River Thames. 
    • Fires Ancient will light up the south and east sides of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral with a fiery projection echoing both the catastrophic impact of the Great Fire of London on the Cathedral itself and the birth of the building designed by Christopher Wren that emerged, phoenix­like from the ashes. The projection will be visible from across the river and with a unique view from the terrace of One New Change. (Supported by Cheapside Business Alliance, RSA Insurance and Land Securities)
    • Fires Modern will project Firrell’s text and flames about stories of resurgence and change that have shaped the UK’s capital city onto the flytower of the National Theatre’s (NT’s) iconic Grade II listed building. 
  • French fire alchemists Compagnie Carabosse will create a Fire Garden on the riverside area in front of Tate Modern - transforming it into a crackling, spitting, after ­dark adventure.
  • On Saturday 3 September, tation House Opera’s interactive installation will trace the route of the Great Fire of London along 6km route within the City of London using 26,000 breezeblocks - which will topple as the fire progresses
  • there's an underwater performance-artwork at Broadgate
  • plus many more events - you can read all about them on this page

and finally 

  • On Sunday 4 September, the finale event will be the burning of a structure depicting medieval London, on the River Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges. The structure is an artistic interpretation of the look of the city in 1666 and it's being assembled on barges - ready for burning at 6pm on the evening of Sunday 4th September - view the video below to find out more.
Artichoke has been commissioned by The Space to produce a live digital broadcast of the spectacular finale event, London 1666. An extraordinary 120­ metre long sculpture of the 17th ­century London skyline will appear on the River Thames and burn, in a dramatic retelling of the story of the Great Fire of London of September 1666. A collaboration between American ‘burn’ artist David Best and Artichoke, the project has involved months of work and participation with local schools and young Londoners.
You will be able to watch the burn online live!


Initially I thought nobody seemed to have told Transport for London! Then I learned there was a Great Fire 350 page on the TFL website

Also this is a map showing the planned line closures for this weekend and also bus replacement information, please click here.

Importantly for those living in East London, there is:
  • no District Line between Tower Hill and West Ham and 
  • no Hammersmith and City Line between Barling and Liverpool Street 
  • although the Central Line is running normally.
Also if you're travelling in London on Saturday 3 or Sunday 4 September, TFL advises that:
  • Roads will be closed in the City of London around event times
  • Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges will be closed between 17:00-23:00 on Sunday 4 September
  • Buses in the City of London may be diverted or terminate early to avoid the road closures
  • Tube and rail will be the best way to get London on the event days, but Blackfriars station and other stations along the event route may be busier than usual

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