Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Tales of the Month

A monthly delve into the city's archives.

Nov 20, 2011

On Monday 15 November 1824 the most disastrous fire recorded in Edinburgh’s history broke out in a large seven-storey house at the head of Old Assembly Close. Twenty two fire engines belonging to the insurance companies attended.

Almost every building on the south side of the High Street from Old Assembly Close to the Exchequer buildings in Parliament Square, including most of the property running back to the Cowgate, was destroyed. As a result of the 1824 Great Fire, almost 400 people left their homes, eleven residents and two firemen of the newly established Edinburgh Fire Establishment lost their lives.

This tragedy did have some positive effects. 24 year old James Braidwood, recently appointed Master of Fire Engines for Edinburgh, was galvanised by what he saw to create a more effective training for firemen. He was the first municipal fire-master in the world and went on to set up the London Fire Brigade.

EWH are grateful for permission to use this extract from “The Edinburgh Book of Days” by Michael T.R.B. Turnbull, published by The History Press. www.thehistorypress.co.uk

More tales from Edinburgh’s archives will appear in December.

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