Wednesday 9 March 2016

Before the Fire

This animated 3-D tour of parts of London before the Great Fire is rather wonderful, I think. But was the city really that murky and gloomy, was its tonal palette that limited? It is always represented as such, in dramas and elsewhere, but surely London could be a bright and sunny place at times. The absence of people in the animation is understandable, given its technical limitations, but it does enhance the doomy, pre-apocalyptic feel of the animation. Nice music, though - by Hans Zimmer.


  1. When did London first burn much sea coal? Smollett refers to the acrid smell of it in The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, but were they using so much before the fire?

  2. It seems Londoners started burning sea coal as early as the 12th century, and repeated legal efforts to stop them - up to and including the death penalty - had little effect. Wood just wasn't a practical option for most Londoners, being more expensive. Shortly before the Great Fire, John Evelyn was railing against the burning of sea coal in his Fumifungium (1661) - which I can't claim to have read. Coal burning - and London 'pea soupers' - continued into the 1950s.